Non-Cooperative Rational Interactive Proofs

Jing Chen, Samuel McCauley, Shikha Singh

Interactive-proof games model the scenario where an honest party interacts with powerful but strategic provers, to elicit from them the correct answer to a computational question. Interactive proofs are increasingly used as a framework to design protocols for computation outsourcing. Existing interactive-proof games largely fall into two categories: either as games of cooperation such as multi-prover interactive proofs and cooperative rational proofs, where the provers work together as a team; or as games of conflict such as refereed games, where the provers directly compete with each other in a zero-sum game. Neither of these extremes truly capture the strategic nature of service providers in outsourcing applications. How to design and analyze non-cooperative interactive proofs is an important open problem. In this paper, we introduce a mechanism-design approach to define a multi-prover interactive-proof model in which the provers are rational and non-cooperative---they act to maximize their expected utility given others' strategies. We define a strong notion of backwards induction as our solution concept to analyze the resulting extensive-form game with imperfect information. Our protocols provide utility gap guarantees, which are analogous to soundness gap in classic interactive proofs. At a high level, a utility gap of u means that the protocol is robust against provers that may not care about a utility loss of 1/u. We fully characterize the complexity of our proof system under different utility gap guarantees. For example, we show that with a polynomial utility gap, the power of non-cooperative rational interactive proofs is exactly P^NEXP.

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