Computing Nash Equilibria in Generalized Interdependent Security Games

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27 (NIPS 2014)

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Hau Chan, Luis E. Ortiz


We study the computational complexity of computing Nash equilibria in generalized interdependent-security (IDS) games. Like traditional IDS games, originally introduced by economists and risk-assessment experts Heal and Kunreuther about a decade ago, generalized IDS games model agents’ voluntary investment decisions when facing potential direct risk and transfer risk exposure from other agents. A distinct feature of generalized IDS games, however, is that full investment can reduce transfer risk. As a result, depending on the transfer-risk reduction level, generalized IDS games may exhibit strategic complementarity (SC) or strategic substitutability (SS). We consider three variants of generalized IDS games in which players exhibit only SC, only SS, and both SC+SS. We show that determining whether there is a pure-strategy Nash equilibrium (PSNE) in SC+SS-type games is NP-complete, while computing a single PSNE in SC-type games takes worst-case polynomial time. As for the problem of computing all mixed-strategy Nash equilibria (MSNE) efficiently, we produce a partial characterization. Whenever each agent in the game is indiscriminate in terms of the transfer-risk exposure to the other agents, a case that Kearns and Ortiz originally studied in the context of traditional IDS games in their NIPS 2003 paper, we can compute all MSNE that satisfy some ordering constraints in polynomial time in all three game variants. Yet, there is a computational barrier in the general (transfer) case: we show that the computational problem is as hard as the Pure-Nash-Extension problem, also originally introduced by Kearns and Ortiz, and that it is NP complete for all three variants. Finally, we experimentally examine and discuss the practical impact that the additional protection from transfer risk allowed in generalized IDS games has on MSNE by solving several randomly-generated instances of SC+SS-type games with graph structures taken from several real-world datasets.