High quality stable solutions in social and communication networks

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Bhardwaj, Onkar
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Electronic thesis
Electrical engineering
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Network Formation Games is a rich category of games which studies how a network emerges as an outcome of strategic interaction of self-interested nodes (agents) pursuing their own objectives. The conflicts among node objectives can affect the stability and efficiency of resulting outcomes. In this thesis, we focus on investigating stability and quality of outcomes in a variety of network formation games in the context of social and communication networks.
In Chapter 3 and 4 we propose two separate models of network formation games motivated from the observation that in social networks the utility (or happiness) of an agent is composed of his own contribution as well as contribution from his friends (and friends-of-friends, etc.). Specifically, the model in Chapter 3 studies the effect of friendship among the nodes on stable matching games. We show that whenever nodes care for well- being of each other, instead of caring only about their own reward, then it greatly improves the quality of stable matchings. In Chapter 4 we introduce a general framework of two-hop games where the utility of a node not only depends on its direct connections but also on the usefulness of its two-hop connections. We analyze two natural variants of two-hop games and show that high-quality stable outcomes exist in both these formulations.
Routing games is a special category of network formation games applied to communication networks which studies formation of traffic routes on top of physical infrastructure controlled by multiple competing agents (such as internet service providers or ISPs). In Chapter 5, we provide a model that captures the interdependence between the traffic routes and their prices for the traffic flowing directly between competing ISPs. We prove that we can carefully design prices that not only facilitate a socially optimal flow but also agree with the individual ISP objectives. In Chapter 6, we turn our attention to Internet eXchange Points (IXPs) which is another important mechanism by which ISPs exchange traffic. We study a network formation game motivated by the interaction between ISPs and IXP and show that stable as well as efficient outcomes exist when the fees charged by the intermediary (i.e., IXP) to facilitate the connections between the nodes (i.e., ISPs) follow well-known pricing schemes such as proportional pricing and marginal cost pricing.
May 2015
School of Engineering
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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