Problem 18: Rating Trading

Consider the following problem, which we will refer to as the Math Trade Problem:

Consider a set of N players, each of which has one game that they want to trade. Assume that each player has a different game. Each person also has a list of games that he wants (You may assume that nobody lists a game they already have as a game they "want".) The goal is to determine how to distribute the games between players such that the number of trades (i.e. the number of people that end up with a game they want) is maximized subject to the constraint that everyone ends up with exactly one game, and each person ends up with either a game he wants or he keeps the game he already has.

The minimum-cost network flow problem with node capacities is as follows:

Consider a graph G with a set of vertices V (also known as "nodes") and (directed) edges E between these vertices. Each edge has a maximum capacity, which states how many units of flow can be sent along that edge, and a "cost", which gives the cost of sending each unit of flow along that edge. The goal is to find a way of sending flow such that the amount of flow going into each node is the same as the amount of flow going out, and the total cost of all the flow sent is minimized. Additionally, nodes may have "node capacities" which give the maximum amount of flow that can flow through that node. (In some versions of the network flow problem, there can be "source" nodes or "sink" nodes for which the amount of flow going in need not be the same as the amount going out, but these will not be necessary for our purposes.)

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Problem 18A. Given an instance of the Math Trade Problem, show how to transform it into an instance of the Minimum-Cost Network Flow Problem with Node Capacities, such that a solution to the network flow problem will give a solution to the given Math Trade Problem.

Problem 18B. Given an instance of the Minimum-Cost Network Flow Problem with Node Capacities, show how to transform it into an instance of the Minimum-Cost Network Flow problem without node capacities. (There are several well-known algorithms that can be used to solve this problem.)

Problem 18C. Consider the following generalization of the problem. Suppose that each player owns multiple games, and we want to maximize the number of trades (i.e. total number of games that people want that they get) subject to the constraint that each player ends up with the same number of games he or she started out with, and each of those games is either one he already had or one that he wants. However, we also add the complication that several players may want to trade the same game, and nobody wants to end up with two or more copies of the same game.

I will put some hints up later tonight and I will put the solution up tomorrow.

## Saturday, October 29, 2011

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