Flow Games

Authors Orna Kupferman, Gal Vardi, Moshe Y. Vardi

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Orna Kupferman
Gal Vardi
Moshe Y. Vardi

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Orna Kupferman, Gal Vardi, and Moshe Y. Vardi. Flow Games. In 37th IARCS Annual Conference on Foundations of Software Technology and Theoretical Computer Science (FSTTCS 2017). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 93, pp. 38:1-38:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


In the traditional maximal-flow problem, the goal is to transfer maximum flow in a network by directing, in each vertex in the network, incoming flow into outgoing edges. While the problem has been extensively used in order to optimize the performance of networks in numerous application areas, it corresponds to a setting in which the authority has control on all vertices of the network. Today's computing environment involves parties that should be considered adversarial. We introduce and study {\em flow games}, which capture settings in which the authority can control only part of the vertices. In these games, the vertices are partitioned between two players: the authority and the environment. While the authority aims at maximizing the flow, the environment need not cooperate. We argue that flow games capture many modern settings, such as partially-controlled pipe or road systems or hybrid software-defined communication networks. We show that the problem of finding the maximal flow as well as an optimal strategy for the authority in an acyclic flow game is $\Sigma_2^P$-complete, and is already $\Sigma_2^P$-hard to approximate. We study variants of the game: a restriction to strategies that ensure no loss of flow, an extension to strategies that allow non-integral flows, which we prove to be stronger, and a dynamic setting in which a strategy for a vertex is chosen only once flow reaches the vertex. We discuss additional variants and their applications, and point to several interesting open problems.
  • Flow networks
  • Two-player Games
  • Algorithms


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