"Implications of Selfish Neighbor Selection in Overlay Networks"
Nikolaos Laoutaris, Georgios Smaragdakis, Azer Bestavros and John W. Byers.

In a typical overlay network for routing or content sharing, each node must select a fixed number of immediate overlay neighbors for routing traffic or content queries. A selfish node entering such a network would select neighbors so as to minimize the weighted sum of expected access costs to all its destinations. Previous work on selfish neighbor selection has built intuition with simple models where edges are undirected, access costs are modeled by hop-counts, and nodes have potentially unbounded degrees. However, in practice, important constraints not captured by these models lead to richer games with substantively and fundamentally different outcomes. Our work models neighbor selection as a game involving directed links, constraints on the number of allowed neighbors, and costs reflecting both network latency and node preference. We express a node’s “best response” wiring strategy as a k-median problem on asymmetric distance, and use this formulation to obtain pure Nash equilibria. We experimentally examine the properties of such stable wirings on synthetic topologies, as well as on real topologies and maps constructed from PlanetLab and AS-level Internet measurements. Our results indicate that selfish nodes can reap substantial performance benefits when connecting to overlay networks composed of non-selfish nodes. On the other hand, in overlays that are dominated by selfish nodes, the resulting stable wirings are optimized to such great extent that even non-selfish newcomers can extract near-optimal performance through naive wiring strategies.

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