Strategy-Proof Approximation Algorithms for the Stable Marriage Problem with Ties and Incomplete Lists

Authors Koki Hamada , Shuichi Miyazaki , Hiroki Yanagisawa

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Koki Hamada
  • NTT Corporation, 3-9-11, Midori-cho, Musashino-shi, Tokyo 180-8585, Japan
  • Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Shuichi Miyazaki
  • Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Hiroki Yanagisawa
  • IBM Research - Tokyo, 19-21, Hakozaki-cho, Nihombashi, Chuoh-ku, Tokyo 103-8510, Japan


We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Koki Hamada, Shuichi Miyazaki, and Hiroki Yanagisawa. Strategy-Proof Approximation Algorithms for the Stable Marriage Problem with Ties and Incomplete Lists. In 30th International Symposium on Algorithms and Computation (ISAAC 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 149, pp. 9:1-9:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


In the stable marriage problem (SM), a mechanism that always outputs a stable matching is called a stable mechanism. One of the well-known stable mechanisms is the man-oriented Gale-Shapley algorithm (MGS). MGS has a good property that it is strategy-proof to the men’s side, i.e., no man can obtain a better outcome by falsifying a preference list. We call such a mechanism a man-strategy-proof mechanism. Unfortunately, MGS is not a woman-strategy-proof mechanism. (Of course, if we flip the roles of men and women, we can see that the woman-oriented Gale-Shapley algorithm (WGS) is a woman-strategy-proof but not a man-strategy-proof mechanism.) Roth has shown that there is no stable mechanism that is simultaneously man-strategy-proof and woman-strategy-proof, which is known as Roth’s impossibility theorem. In this paper, we extend these results to the stable marriage problem with ties and incomplete lists (SMTI). Since SMTI is an extension of SM, Roth’s impossibility theorem takes over to SMTI. Therefore, we focus on the one-sided-strategy-proofness. In SMTI, one instance can have stable matchings of different sizes, and it is natural to consider the problem of finding a largest stable matching, known as MAX SMTI. Thus we incorporate the notion of approximation ratios used in the theory of approximation algorithms. We say that a stable-mechanism is a c-approximate-stable mechanism if it always returns a stable matching of size at least 1/c of a largest one. We also consider a restricted variant of MAX SMTI, which we call MAX SMTI-1TM, where only men’s lists can contain ties (and women’s lists must be strictly ordered). Our results are summarized as follows: (i) MAX SMTI admits both a man-strategy-proof 2-approximate-stable mechanism and a woman-strategy-proof 2-approximate-stable mechanism. (ii) MAX SMTI-1TM admits a woman-strategy-proof 2-approximate-stable mechanism. (iii) MAX SMTI-1TM admits a man-strategy-proof 1.5-approximate-stable mechanism. All these results are tight in terms of approximation ratios. Also, all these results apply for strategy-proofness against coalitions.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Approximation algorithms analysis
  • Theory of computation → Algorithmic game theory
  • Stable marriage problem
  • strategy-proofness
  • approximation algorithm
  • ties
  • incomplete lists


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