Sharing in networks of strategic agents

Jie Xu, Yangbo Song, Mihaela Van Der Schaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In social, economic and engineering networks, connected agents need to cooperate by repeatedly sharing information and/or goods. Typically, sharing is costly and there are no immediate benefits for agents who share. Hence, agents who strategically aim to maximize their own individual utilities will "free-ride" because they lack incentives to cooperate/share, thereby leading to inefficient operation or even collapse of networks. To incentivize the strategic agents to cooperate with each other, we design distributed rating protocols which exploit the ongoing nature of the agents' interactions to assign ratings and through them, determine future rewards and punishments: agents that have behaved as directed enjoy high ratings - and hence greater future access to the information/goods of others; agents that have not behaved as directed enjoy low ratings - and hence less future access to the information/goods of others. Unlike existing rating protocols, the proposed protocol operates in a distributed manner and takes into consideration the underlying interconnectivity of agents as well as their heterogeneity. We prove that in many networks, the price of anarchy (PoA) obtained by adopting the proposed rating protocols is 1, that is, the optimal social welfare is attained. In networks where PoA is larger than 1, we show that the proposed rating protocol significantly outperforms existing incentive mechanisms. Last but not least, the proposed rating protocols can also operate efficiently in dynamic networks, where new agents enter the network over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6787069
Pages (from-to)717-731
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Signal Processing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cooperative networks
  • distributed protocols
  • economics networks
  • imperfect monitoring
  • incentive design
  • indirect reciprocity
  • ratings
  • repeated games
  • social networks
  • social reciprocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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