Price of Competition and Dueling Games

Authors Sina Dehghani, Mohammad Taghi Hajiaghayi, Hamid Mahini, Saeed Seddighin

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Sina Dehghani
Mohammad Taghi Hajiaghayi
Hamid Mahini
Saeed Seddighin

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Sina Dehghani, Mohammad Taghi Hajiaghayi, Hamid Mahini, and Saeed Seddighin. Price of Competition and Dueling Games. In 43rd International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2016). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 55, pp. 21:1-21:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2016)


We study competition in a general framework introduced by Immorlica, Kalai, Lucier, Moitra, Postlewaite, and Tennenholtz and answer their main open question. Immorlica et al. considered classic optimization problems in terms of competition and introduced a general class of games called dueling games. They model this competition as a zero-sum game, where two players are competing for a user’s satisfaction. In their main and most natural game, the ranking duel, a user requests a webpage by submitting a query and players output an ordering over all possible webpages based on the submitted query. The user tends to choose the ordering which displays her requested webpage in a higher rank. The goal of both players is to maximize the probability that her ordering beats that of her opponent and gets the user's attention. Immorlica et al. show this game directs both players to provide suboptimal search results. However, they leave the following as their main open question: "does competition between algorithms improve or degrade expected performance?" (see the introduction for more quotes) In this paper, we resolve this question for the ranking duel and a more general class of dueling games. More precisely, we study the quality of orderings in a competition between two players. This game is a zero-sum game, and thus any Nash equilibrium of the game can be described by minimax strategies. Let the value of the user for an ordering be a function of the position of her requested item in the corresponding ordering, and the social welfare for an ordering be the expected value of the corresponding ordering for the user. We propose the price of competition which is the ratio of the social welfare for the worst minimax strategy to the social welfare obtained by asocial planner. Finding the price of competition is another approach to obtain structural results of Nash equilibria. We use this criterion for analyzing the quality of orderings in the ranking duel. Although Immorlica et al. show that the competition leads to suboptimal strategies, we prove the quality of minimax results is surprisingly close to that of the optimum solution. In particular, via a novel factor-revealing LP for computing price of anarchy, we prove if the value of the user for an ordering is a linear function of its position, then the price of competition is at least 0.612 and bounded above by 0.833. Moreover we consider the cost minimization version of the problem. We prove, the social cost of the worst minimax strategy is at most 3 times the optimal social cost. Last but not least, we go beyond linear valuation functions and capture the main challenge for bounding the price of competition for any arbitrary valuation function. We present a principle which states that the lower bound for the price of competition for all 0-1 valuation functions is the same as the lower bound for the price of competition for all possible valuation functions. It is worth mentioning that this principle not only works for the ranking duel but also for all dueling games. This principle says, in any dueling game, the most challenging part of bounding the price of competition is finding a lower bound for 0-1 valuation functions. We leverage this principle to show that the price of competition is at least 0.25 for the generalized ranking duel.
  • POC
  • POA
  • Dueling games
  • Nash equilibria
  • sponsored search


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