TY - JOUR

T1 - Average-Case Approximation Ratio of Scheduling without Payments

AU - Zhang, Jie

N1 - Funding Information: Jie Zhang was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

PY - 2021/6/1

Y1 - 2021/6/1

N2 - Apart from the principles and methodologies inherited from Economics and Game Theory, the studies in Algorithmic Mechanism Design typically employ the worst-case analysis and design of approximation schemes of Theoretical Computer Science. For instance, the approximation ratio, which is the canonical measure of evaluating how well an incentive-compatible mechanism approximately optimizes the objective, is defined in the worst-case sense. It compares the performance of the optimal mechanism against the performance of a truthful mechanism, for all possible inputs. In this paper, we take the average-case analysis approach, and tackle one of the primary motivating problems in Algorithmic Mechanism Design—the scheduling problem (Nisan and Ronen, in: Proceedings of the 31st annual ACM symposium on theory of computing (STOC), 1999). One version of this problem, which includes a verification component, is studied by Koutsoupias (Theory Comput Syst 54(3):375–387, 2014). It was shown that the problem has a tight approximation ratio bound of (n+1)/2 for the single-task setting, where n is the number of machines. We show, however, when the costs of the machines to executing the task follow any independent and identical distribution, the average-case approximation ratio of the mechanism given by Koutsoupias (Theory Comput Syst 54(3):375–387, 2014) is upper bounded by a constant. This positive result asymptotically separates the average-case ratio from the worst-case ratio. It indicates that the optimal mechanism devised for a worst-case guarantee works well on average.

AB - Apart from the principles and methodologies inherited from Economics and Game Theory, the studies in Algorithmic Mechanism Design typically employ the worst-case analysis and design of approximation schemes of Theoretical Computer Science. For instance, the approximation ratio, which is the canonical measure of evaluating how well an incentive-compatible mechanism approximately optimizes the objective, is defined in the worst-case sense. It compares the performance of the optimal mechanism against the performance of a truthful mechanism, for all possible inputs. In this paper, we take the average-case analysis approach, and tackle one of the primary motivating problems in Algorithmic Mechanism Design—the scheduling problem (Nisan and Ronen, in: Proceedings of the 31st annual ACM symposium on theory of computing (STOC), 1999). One version of this problem, which includes a verification component, is studied by Koutsoupias (Theory Comput Syst 54(3):375–387, 2014). It was shown that the problem has a tight approximation ratio bound of (n+1)/2 for the single-task setting, where n is the number of machines. We show, however, when the costs of the machines to executing the task follow any independent and identical distribution, the average-case approximation ratio of the mechanism given by Koutsoupias (Theory Comput Syst 54(3):375–387, 2014) is upper bounded by a constant. This positive result asymptotically separates the average-case ratio from the worst-case ratio. It indicates that the optimal mechanism devised for a worst-case guarantee works well on average.

KW - Approximation ratio

KW - Average-case analysis

KW - Scheduling

U2 - 10.1007/s00453-020-00796-2

DO - 10.1007/s00453-020-00796-2

M3 - Article

VL - 83

SP - 1638

EP - 1652

JO - Algorithmica

JF - Algorithmica

SN - 0178-4617

IS - 6

ER -