A Game-Theoretic Model Motivated by the DARPA Network Challenge

by   Rajesh Chitnis, et al.

In this paper we propose a game-theoretic model to analyze events similar to the 2009 DARPA Network Challenge, which was organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for exploring the roles that the Internet and social networks play in incentivizing wide-area collaborations. The challenge was to form a group that would be the first to find the locations of ten moored weather balloons across the United States. We consider a model in which N people (who can form groups) are located in some topology with a fixed coverage volume around each person's geographical location. We consider various topologies where the players can be located such as the Euclidean d-dimension space and the vertices of a graph. A balloon is placed in the space and a group wins if it is the first one to report the location of the balloon. A larger team has a higher probability of finding the balloon, but we assume that the prize money is divided equally among the team members. Hence there is a competing tension to keep teams as small as possible. Risk aversion is the reluctance of a person to accept a bargain with an uncertain payoff rather than another bargain with a more certain, but possibly lower, expected payoff. In our model we consider the isoelastic utility function derived from the Arrow-Pratt measure of relative risk aversion. The main aim is to analyze the structures of the groups in Nash equilibria for our model. For the d-dimensional Euclidean space (d≥ 1) and the class of bounded degree regular graphs we show that in any Nash Equilibrium the richest group (having maximum expected utility per person) covers a constant fraction of the total volume.


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