Balancing local resources and global goals in multiply constrained distributed constraint optimization


Distributed constraint optimization (DCOP) is a useful framework for cooperative multiagent coordination. DCOP focuses on optimizing a single team objective. However, in many domains, agents must satisfy constraints on resources consumed locally while optimizing the team goal. These resource constraints may need to be kept private or shared to improve efficiency. Extending DCOP to these domains raises two issues: algorithm design and sensitivity analysis. Algorithm design requires creating algorithms that trade off completeness, scalability, privacy and efficiency. Sensitivity analysis examines whether slightly increasing the available resources could yield a significantly better outcome. This thesis defines the multiply-constrained DCOP (MC-DCOP) framework and provides complete and incomplete algorithms for solving MC-DCOP problems. Complete algorithms find the best allocation of scarce resources, while incomplete algorithms are more scalable. The algorithms use mutually-intervening search; they use local resource constraints to intervene in the search for the globally optimal solution. The algorithms use four key techniques: (i) transforming constraints to maintain privacy; (ii) dynamically setting upper bounds on resource consumption; (iii) identifying the extent to which the local graph structure allows agents to compute exact bounds on resource consumption; and (iv) using a virtual assignment to flag problems rendered unsatisfiable by their resource constraints. Proofs of correctness are presented for all algorithms. Finally, the complete and incomplete algorithms are used in conjunction with one another to perform distributed local reoptimization to address sensitivity analysis. Experimental results demonstrated that MC-DCOP problems are most challenging when resources are scarce but sufficient. In problems where there are insufficient resources, the team goal is largely irrelevant. In problems with ample resources, the local resource constraints require little consideration. The incomplete algorithms were two orders of magnitude more efficient than the complete algorithm for the most challenging MC-DCOP problems and their runtime increased very little as the number of agents in the network increased. Finally, sensitivity analysis results indicated that local reoptimization is an effective way to identify resource constraints that are creating bottlenecks. Taken together these new algorithms and examination of the problem of sensitivity analysis help extend the applicability of DCOP to more complex domains.
See also: 2007