Multiplicative Weights Update with Constant Step-Size in Congestion Games: Convergence, Limit Cycles and Chaos

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Authors

Gerasimos Palaiopanos, Ioannis Panageas, Georgios Piliouras

Abstract

The Multiplicative Weights Update (MWU) method is a ubiquitous meta-algorithm that works as follows: A distribution is maintained on a certain set, and at each step the probability assigned to action $\gamma$ is multiplied by $(1 -\epsilon C(\gamma))>0$ where $C(\gamma)$ is the ``cost" of action $\gamma$ and then rescaled to ensure that the new values form a distribution. We analyze MWU in congestion games where agents use \textit{arbitrary admissible constants} as learning rates $\epsilon$ and prove convergence to \textit{exact Nash equilibria}. Interestingly, this convergence result does not carry over to the nearly homologous MWU variant where at each step the probability assigned to action $\gamma$ is multiplied by $(1 -\epsilon)^{C(\gamma)}$ even for the simplest case of two-agent, two-strategy load balancing games, where such dynamics can provably lead to limit cycles or even chaotic behavior.