New Approximations for Coalitional Manipulation in General Scoring Rules

Orgad Keller, Avinatan Hassidim, Noam Hazon

We study the problem of coalitional manipulation---where $k$ manipulators try to manipulate an election on $m$ candidates---under general scoring rules, with a focus on the Borda protocol. We do so both in the weighted and unweighted settings. We focus on minimizing the maximum score obtainable by a non-preferred candidate. In the strongest, most general setting, we provide an algorithm for any scoring rule as described by a vector $\vec{\alpha}=(\alpha_1,\ldots,\alpha_m)$: for some $\beta=O(\sqrt{m\log m})$, it obtains an additive approximation equal to $W\cdot \max_i \lvert \alpha_{i+\beta}-\alpha_i \rvert$, where $W$ is the sum of voter weights. For Borda, both the weighted and unweighted variants are known to be $NP$-hard. For the unweighted case, our simpler algorithm provides a randomized, additive $O(k \sqrt{m \log m} )$ approximation; in other words, if there exists a strategy enabling the preferred candidate to win by an $\Omega(k \sqrt{m \log m} )$ margin, our method, with high probability, will find a strategy enabling her to win (albeit with a possibly smaller margin). It thus provides a somewhat stronger guarantee compared to the previous methods, which implicitly implied a strategy that provides an $\Omega(m)$-additive approximation to the maximum score of a non-preferred candidate. For the weighted case, our generalized algorithm provides an $O(W \sqrt{m \log m} )$-additive approximation, where $W$ is the sum of voter weights. This is a clear advantage over previous methods: some of them do not generalize to the weighted case, while others---which approximate the number of manipulators---pose restrictions on the weights of extra manipulators added. Our methods are based on carefully rounding an exponentially-large configuration linear program that is solved by using the ellipsoid method with an efficient separation oracle.

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