AAAI Publications, Thirty-First AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Computational Issues in Time-Inconsistent Planning
Pingzhong Tang, Yifeng Teng, Zihe Wang, Shenke Xiao, Yichong Xu

Last modified: 2017-02-12


Time-inconsistency refers to a paradox in decision making where agents exhibit inconsistent behaviors over time. Examples are procrastination where agents tend to postpone easy tasks, and abandonments where agents start a plan and quit in the middle. To capture such behaviors and to quantify inefficiency caused by such behaviors, Kleinberg and Oren (2014) propose a graph model with a certain cost structure and initiate the study of several interesting computation problems: 1) cost ratio: the worst ratio between the actual cost of the agent and the optimal cost, over all the graph instances; 2) motivating subgraph: how to motivate the agent to reach the goal by deleting nodes and edges; 3) Intermediate rewards: how to incentivize agents to reach the goal by placing intermediate rewards. Kleinberg and Oren give partial answers to these questions, but the main problems are open. In this paper, we give answers to all three open problems. First, we show a tight upper bound of cost ratio for graphs, and confirm the conjecture by Kleinberg and Oren that Akerlof’s structure is indeed the worst case for cost ratio. Second, we prove that finding a motivating subgraph is NP-hard, showing that it is generally inefficient to motivate agents by deleting nodes and edges in the graph. Last but not least, we show that computing a strategy to place minimum amount of total reward is also NP-hard and we provide a 2n- approximation algorithm.

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