The Evolutionary Price of Anarchy: Locally Bounded Agents in a Dynamic Virus Game

Authors Laura Schmid , Krishnendu Chatterjee, Stefan Schmid

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Author Details

Laura Schmid
  • IST Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria
Krishnendu Chatterjee
  • IST Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria
Stefan Schmid
  • Faculty of Computer Science, University of Vienna, Austria

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Laura Schmid, Krishnendu Chatterjee, and Stefan Schmid. The Evolutionary Price of Anarchy: Locally Bounded Agents in a Dynamic Virus Game. In 23rd International Conference on Principles of Distributed Systems (OPODIS 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 153, pp. 21:1-21:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


The Price of Anarchy (PoA) is a well-established game-theoretic concept to shed light on coordination issues arising in open distributed systems. Leaving agents to selfishly optimize comes with the risk of ending up in sub-optimal states (in terms of performance and/or costs), compared to a centralized system design. However, the PoA relies on strong assumptions about agents' rationality (e.g., resources and information) and interactions, whereas in many distributed systems agents interact locally with bounded resources. They do so repeatedly over time (in contrast to "one-shot games"), and their strategies may evolve. Using a more realistic evolutionary game model, this paper introduces a realized evolutionary Price of Anarchy (ePoA). The ePoA allows an exploration of equilibrium selection in dynamic distributed systems with multiple equilibria, based on local interactions of simple memoryless agents. Considering a fundamental game related to virus propagation on networks, we present analytical bounds on the ePoA in basic network topologies and for different strategy update dynamics. In particular, deriving stationary distributions of the stochastic evolutionary process, we find that the Nash equilibria are not always the most abundant states, and that different processes can feature significant off-equilibrium behavior, leading to a significantly higher ePoA compared to the PoA studied traditionally in the literature.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Solution concepts in game theory
  • Theory of computation → Network games
  • Networks → Network algorithms
  • Evolutionary Games
  • Virus Propagation
  • Price of Anarchy
  • Analysis


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