Bounds on the Cost of Stabilizing a Cooperative Game

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Abstract

A key issue in cooperative game theory is coalitional stability, usually captured by the notion of the core---the set of outcomes that are resistant to group deviations. However, some coalitional games have empty cores, and any outcome in such a game is unstable. We investigate the possibility of stabilizing a coalitional game by using subsidies. We consider scenarios where an external party that is interested in having the players work together offers a supplemental payment to the grand coalition, or, more generally, a particular coalition structure. This payment is conditional on players not deviating from this coalition structure, and may be divided among the players in any way they wish. We define the cost of stability as the minimum external payment that stabilizes the game. We provide tight bounds on the cost of stability, both for games where the coalitional values are nonnegative (profit-sharing games) and for games where the coalitional values are nonpositive (cost-sharing games), under natural assumptions on the characteristic function, such as superadditivity, anonymity, or both. We also investigate the relationship between the cost of stability and several variants of the least core. Finally, we study the computational complexity of problems related to the cost of stability, with a focus on weighted voting games.

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