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2009 50th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (2009)
Atlanta, Georgia
Oct. 25, 2009 to Oct. 27, 2009
ISSN: 0272-5428
ISBN: 978-0-7695-3850-1
pp: 485-494
We study the complexity of {\em rationalizing} network formation. In this problem we fix an underlying model describing how selfish parties (the vertices) produce a graph by making individual decisions to form or not form incident edges. The model is equipped with a notion of stability (or equilibrium), and we observe a set of "snapshots'' of graphs that are assumed to be stable. From this we would like to infer some unobserved data about the system: edge prices, or how much each vertex values short paths to each other vertex. We study two rationalization problems arising from the network formation model of Jackson and Wolinsky \cite{JW96}. When the goal is to infer edge prices, we observe that the rationalization problem is easy. The problem remains easy even when rationalizing prices do not exist and we instead wish to find prices that maximize the stability of the system. In contrast, when the edge prices are given and the goal is instead to infer valuations of each vertex by each other vertex, we prove that the rationalization problem becomes NP-hard. Our proof exposes a close connection between rationalization problems and the Inequality-SAT (I-SAT) problem. Finally and most significantly, we prove that an approximation version of this NP-complete rationalization problem is NP-hard to approximate to within better than a 1/2 ratio. This shows that the trivial algorithm of setting everyone's valuations to infinity(which rationalizes all the edges present in the input graphs) or to zero (which rationalizes all the non-edges present in the input graphs) is the best possible assuming P $\ne$ NP. To do this we prove a tight $(1/2 + \delta)$-approximation hardness for a variant of I-SAT in which all coefficients are non-negative. This in turn follows from a tight hardness result for $\text{{\scMax-Lin}}_{{\mathbb R}_+}$ (linear equations over the real s, with non-negative coefficients), which we prove by a (non-trivial)modification of the recent result of Guruswami and Raghavendra\cite{GR07} which achieved tight hardness for this problem without the non-negativity constraint. Our technical contributions regarding the hardness of I-SAT and$\text{{\sc Max-Lin}}_{{\mathbb R}_+}$ may be of independent interest, given the generality of these problems.
network formation games, Jackson-Wolinsky model, Inequality-SAT, hardness of approximation

S. Kalyanaraman and C. Umans, "The Complexity of Rationalizing Network Formation," 2009 50th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science(FOCS), Atlanta, Georgia, 2009, pp. 485-494.
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