Pricing Bridges to Cross a River
WOAO Vol. 7, 2004
15 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2006
We consider a Stackelberg pricing problem in directed, uncapacitated networks. Tariffs have to be defined by an operator, the leader, for a subset of m arcs, the tariff arcs. Costs of all other arcs are assumed to be given. There are n clients, the followers, that route their demand independent of each other on paths with minimal total cost. The problem is to find tariffs that maximize the operator's revenue. Motivated by problems in telecommunication networks, we consider a restricted version of this problem, assuming that each client utilizes at most one of the operator's tariff arcs. The problem is equivalent to pricing bridges that clients can use in order to cross a river. We prove that this problem is APX-hard. Moreover, we show that uniform pricing yields both an m-approximation, and a (1 + lnD)-approximation. Here, D is upper bounded by the total demand of all clients. We furthermore discuss some polynomially solvable special cases, and present a short computational study with instances from France Télécom. In addition, we consider the problem under the additional restriction that the operator must serve all clients. We prove that this problem does not admit approximation algorithms with any reasonable performance guarantee, unless NP = ZPP, and we prove the existence of an n-approximation algorithm.
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