Games with Secure Equilibria

Krishnendu Chatterjee, Thomas A. Henzinger, and Marcin Jurdzinski

In 2-player non-zero-sum games, Nash equilibria capture the options for rational behavior if each player attempts to maximize her payoff. In contrast to classical game theory, we consider lexicographic objectives: first, each player tries to maximize her own payoff, and then, the player tries to minimize the opponent's payoff. Such objectives arise naturally in the verification of systems with multiple components. There, instead of proving that each component satisfies its specification no matter how the other components behave, it often suffices to prove that each component satisfies its specification provided that the other components satisfy their specifications. We say that a Nash equilibrium is secure if it is an equilibrium with respect to the lexicographic objectives of both players. We prove that in graph games with Borel objectives, which include the games that arise in verification, there may be several Nash equilibria, but there is always a unique maximal payoff profile of secure equilibria. We show how this equilibrium can be computed in the case of omega-regular objectives, and we characterize the memory requirements of strategies that achieve the equilibrium.

Theoretical Computer Science 365:67-82, 2006. A preliminary version appeared in the Proceedings of the 19th Annual Symposium on Logic in Computer Science (LICS), IEEE Computer Society Press, 2004, pp. 160-169.

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