A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Inter-Session Network Coding

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Executive Summary

A common assumption in the network coding literature is that the users are cooperative and will not pursue their own interests. However, this assumption can be violated in practice. In this paper, the authors analyze inter-session network coding in a wired network, assuming that the users are selfish and act as strategic players to maximize their own utility. They prove the existence of Nash equilibria for a wide range of utility functions. The number of Nash equilibria can be large (even infinite) under certain conditions, which is in sharp contrast to a similar game setting with traditional packet forwarding. They then characterize the worst-case efficiency bounds, i.e., the Price-of-Anarchy (PoA), compared to an optimal and cooperative network design.

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