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Incentive Compatibility and Dynamics of Internet Protocols

Date and Time
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Computer Science 402
Aviv Zohar, from Hebrew University
Jennifer Rexford
The internet, a large and distributed system, is not controlled by a single economic entity but rather by multiple agents, each with its own agenda. From this point of view, internet protocols are merely recommendations that agents can choose to ignore if they have anything to gain by doing so. Protocols must therefore be designed to include the right incentives, or agents may decide not to follow them. The talk will mainly focus on a model of congestion control in networks, where the interested agents are the end-hosts who try to maximize their throughput. In this setting, the packet dropping policies of the routers greatly affect the incentives of agents and the convergence properties of the network. I will discuss conditions under which congestion control schemes can be both efficient, so that capacity is not wasted, and incentive compatible, so that each participant can maximize its utility by following the prescribed protocol. As in other protocols, questions of incentive compatibility are often intrinsically linked to the convergence of the network dynamics when agents follow the protocol, and the understanding of one issue goes hand in hand with the understanding of the other.

Based on work with Brighten Godfrey, Hagay Levin, Jeff Rosenschein, Rahul Sami, Michael Schapira, and Scott Shenker.

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