Game-Theoretically Secure Protocols for the Ordinal Random Assignment Problem

by   T-H. Hubert Chan, et al.

We study game-theoretically secure protocols for the classical ordinal assignment problem (aka matching with one-sided preference), in which each player has a total preference order on items. To achieve the fairness notion of equal treatment of equals, conventionally the randomness necessary to resolve conflicts between players is assumed to be generated by some trusted authority. However, in a distributed setting, the mutually untrusted players are responsible for generating the randomness themselves. In addition to standard desirable properties such as fairness and Pareto-efficiency, we investigate the game-theoretic notion of maximin security, which guarantees that an honest player following a protocol will not be harmed even if corrupted players deviate from the protocol. Our main contribution is an impossibility result that shows no maximin secure protocol can achieve both fairness and ordinal efficiency. Specifically, this implies that the well-known probabilistic serial (PS) mechanism by Bogomolnaia and Moulin cannot be realized by any maximin secure protocol. On the other hand, we give a maximin secure protocol that achieves fairness and stability (aka ex-post Pareto-efficiency). Moreover, inspired by the PS mechanism, we show that a variant known as the OnlinePSVar (varying rates) protocol can achieve fairness, stability and uniform dominance, which means that an honest player is guaranteed to receive an item distribution that is at least as good as a uniformly random item. In some sense, this is the best one can hope for in the case when all players have the same preference order.


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