A Necessary and Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Potential Functions for Heterogeneous Routing Games

Farhad Farokhi, Walid Krichene, Alexandre M. Bayen, Karl H. Johansson

We study a heterogeneous routing game in which vehicles might belong to more than one type. The type determines the cost of traveling along an edge as a function of the flow of various types of vehicles over that edge. We relax the assumptions needed for the existence of a Nash equilibrium in this heterogeneous routing game. We extend the available results to present necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of a potential function. We characterize a set of tolls that guarantee the existence of a potential function when only two types of users are participating in the game. We present an upper bound for the price of anarchy (i.e., the worst-case ratio of the social cost calculated for a Nash equilibrium over the social cost for a socially optimal flow) for the case in which only two types of players are participating in a game with affine edge cost functions. A heterogeneous routing game with vehicle platooning incentives is used as an example throughout the article to clarify the concepts and to validate the results.

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