Altruism, selfishness, and spite in traffic routing

Po-An Chen*, David Kempe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

73 Scopus citations


In this paper, we study the price of anarchy of traffic routing, under the assumption that users are partially altruistic or spiteful. We model such behavior by positing that the "cost" perceived by a user is a linear combination of the actual latency of the route chosen (selfish component), and the increase in latency the user causes for others (altruistic component). We show that if all users have a coefficient of at least β > 0 for the altruistic component, then the price of anarchy is bounded by 1/β, for all network topologies, arbitrary commodities, and arbitrary semi-convex latency functions. We extend this result to give more precise bounds on the price of anarchy for specific classes of latency functions, even for β < 0 modeling spiteful behavior. In particular, we show that if all latency functions are linear, the price of anarchy is bounded by 4/(3 + 2β - β2). We next study non-uniform altruism distributions, where different users may have different coefficients β. We prove that all such games, even with infinitely many types of players, have a Nash Equilibrium. We show that if the average of the coefficients for the altruistic components of all users is β, then the price of anarchy is bounded by 1/β, for single commodity parallel link networks, and arbitrary convex latency functions. In particular, this result generalizes, albeit non-constructively, the Stackelberg routing results of Roughgarden and of Swamy. More generally, we bound the price of anarchy based on the class of allowable latency functions, and as a corollary obtain tighter bounds for Stackelberg routing than a recent result of Swamy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEC'08 - Proceedings of the 2008 ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2008
Event2008 ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce, EC'08 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: 8 Jul 200812 Jul 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce


Conference2008 ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce, EC'08
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, IL


  • Altruism
  • Anarchy
  • Routing
  • Selfishness
  • Spite


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