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Using the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves Auction Mechanism for Enhanced Bandwidth Allocation in Tactical Data Networks

January 2008 Technical Report
Mark H. Klein, Daniel Plakosh, Kurt C. Wallnau

This report describes an investigation of the potential for using computational mechanisms to improve the quality of a combat group's common operating picture, in a setting where network bandwidth is scarce.

Publisher:

Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number

CMU/SEI-2008-TR-004

Abstract

A mechanism is an institution such as an auction, voting protocol, or a market that defines the rules for how humans are allowed to interact, and governs the procedure for how collective decisions are made. Computational mechanisms arise where computational agents work on behalf of humans. This report describes an investigation of the potential for using computational mechanisms to improve the quality of a combat group's common operating picture, in a setting where network bandwidth is scarce. Technical details are provided about a robust emulation of a tactical data network (based loosely on the Navy LINK-11) that was developed for the study. The report also outlines the basic principles of mechanism design, as well as the features of the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) auction mechanism implemented for the study. The report describes how the VCG mechanism was used to allocate network bandwidth for sensor data fusion. Empirical results of the investigation are presented, and ideas for further exploration are offered. The overall conclusion of the study is that computational mechanism design is a promising alternative to traditional systems approaches to resource allocation in systems that are highly dynamic, involve many actors engaged in varying activities, and have varying—and possibly competing—goals.