Decentralized Anti-coordination Through Multi-agent Learning

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L. Cigler
B. Faltings


To achieve an optimal outcome in many situations, agents need to choose distinct actions from one another. This is the case notably in many resource allocation problems, where a single resource can only be used by one agent at a time. How shall a designer of a multi-agent system program its identical agents to behave each in a different way?

From a game theoretic perspective, such situations lead to undesirable Nash equilibria. For example consider a resource allocation game in that two players compete for an exclusive access to a single resource. It has three Nash equilibria. The two pure-strategy NE are efficient, but not fair. The one mixed-strategy NE is fair, but not efficient. Aumann's notion of correlated equilibrium fixes this problem: It assumes a correlation device that suggests each agent an action to take.

However, such a "smart" coordination device might not be available. We propose using a randomly chosen, "stupid" integer coordination signal. "Smart" agents learn which action they should use for each value of the coordination signal.

We present a multi-agent learning algorithm that converges in polynomial number of steps to a correlated equilibrium of a channel allocation game, a variant of the resource allocation game. We show that the agents learn to play for each coordination signal value a randomly chosen pure-strategy Nash equilibrium of the game. Therefore, the outcome is an efficient correlated equilibrium. This CE becomes more fair as the number of the available coordination signal values increases.

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