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Selfish Routing and the Price of Anarchy Hardcover – May 6, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Distributed competitive decision making, as opposed to centralized planning, is emerging as the norm in modern systems such as the Internet. The exciting area of algorithmic game theory, which combines methodology from two rich fields, attempts to identify and understand new issues arising as a consequence of this fact. This book provides a vivid glimpse into this area by dealing comprehensively with one of its well-studied problems.

(Vijay V. Vazirani, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology)

Recent trends in the analysis and design of computer networks take into account rationally selfish behavior by the network's different components. This book introduces this exciting interdisciplinary type of analysis and presents some of its clearest and most influential applications.

(Noam Nisan, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Recent trends in the analysis and design of computer networks take into account rationally-selfish behavior by the network's different components. This book introduces this exciting interdisciplinary type of analysis and presents some of its clearest and most influential applications.

(Noam Nisan, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

From the Inside Flap

"Recent trends in the analysis and design of computer networks take into account rationally-selfish behavior by the network's different components. This book introduces this exciting interdisciplinary type of analysis and presents some of its clearest and most influential applications."
--Noam Nisan, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (May 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262182432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262182430
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,256,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Besides containing original results from the author's own PHD thesis, the book has complied results and concepts that can not only jump start a new comer in the field, but also give practical tools for network designers. Starting from the very simple description of Pigou's example, Braess's Paradox, the chapter 2 on preliminary [describing Nash equilibrium, optimal flow], and the most interesting author's note [at the end of each chapter] are very well articulated. Author is very careful about introducing any new term/concept so that he does not lose the reader's attention.

Chapter 3 describes the "worst possible" [the upper bound of the price of anarchy] ratio between the cost of a flow at Nash equilibrium and that of a socially optimal outcome. Author considers cost functions that are linear, quadratic, cubic, polynomial, and M/M/1 delay function.

Chapter 4 extends the results/ bounds from the previous chapters for more general and complicated situations like generalized selfish routing beyond networks [Nonatomic Congestion Games], approximate equilibrium [approximate Nash Flows], selfish routing with explicit edge capacities, and with finite number of network users each controlling a non-negligible amount of flow [that may or may not split]. Example 4.6.1 and the subsequent results shows that the "worst- case inefficiency (or the upper bounds of price of anarchy) of selfish routing should be achieved by only a particular finite range of traffic rates"

Chapter 5 & 6 addresses the interesting design aspects with practical implications, answering the questions how to use a modest degree of centralized control so that selfish routing results in a socially desirable outcome.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who has observed the behavior of real networks understands fully the tradeoffs that are involved in performance versus cost. What is typically not understood in real business contexts is that such tradeoffs can be analyzed quantitatively using various tools from mathematics. Network managers frequently shy away from using these tools, usually viewing them as esoteric or too complicated to be practical. They instead rely on intuition or some vague notion of commonsense to guide their decisions on bandwidth assignments, load balancing, and so on.

That the latter approach can sometimes lead to trouble is exemplified by the results of this book. Throughout its pages, the author gives simple examples and straightforward mathematical theory to illustrate the issues that can arise in network traffic management. It is readily apparent when reading it, especially the discussion of Braess's Paradox, that a simple, commonsense belief, such as the belief that adding a link to a network will relieve congestion, should be viewed with caution.

What the author wants to study in the book is more general, as he is interested in finding out to what extent networks can be left to the users, and not managed centrally, in order to have the most optimal performance. When users of a network decide for themselves what paths to take in the network, and if their decisions are made without considering the effects on other users, this is called `selfish routing.' Will selfish routing result in the best distribution of traffic flow in a particular network? If not, what is the worst possible loss of social welfare that can result from selfish routing? What the author asks, is the `price of anarchy'?

To motivate his answers to these questions, the author begins with two examples.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book presents a wonderful introduction to the mathematical (and computational) foundations of the lost of optimality that arises in selfish routing using the style Definition - Theorem - Examples. It intends to characterize and to provide strategies to deal with the problem of selfish routing and lost of optimality. This book also presents a link between computer science and economic theory.

I believe that this book is an easy reading for those acquainted with real analysis and optimization in Rn.

Although it is not necessary, for those that are not acquainted with the techniques of algorithm game theory and basic notions of game theory, I suggest to read this book in the companion of Multiagent Systems: Algorithmic, Game-Theoretic, and Logical Foundations by Yoav Shoham.
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