When Do Envy-Free Allocations Exist?

Pasin Manurangsi, Warut Suksompong

We consider a fair division setting in which $m$ indivisible items are to be allocated among $n$ agents, where the agents have additive utilities and the agents' utilities for individual items are independently sampled from a distribution. Previous work has shown that an envy-free allocation is likely to exist when $m=\Omega(n\log n)$ but not when $m=n+o(n)$, and left open the question of determining where the phase transition from non-existence to existence occurs. We show that, surprisingly, there is in fact no universal point of transition---instead, the transition is governed by the divisibility relation between $m$ and $n$. On the one hand, if $m$ is divisible by $n$, an envy-free allocation exists with high probability as long as $m\geq 2n$. On the other hand, if $m$ is not "almost" divisible by $n$, an envy-free allocation is unlikely to exist even when $m=\Theta(n\log n/\log\log n)$.

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