Theoretical Computer Science ( IF 0.718 ) Pub Date : 2020-03-24 , DOI: 10.1016/j.tcs.2020.03.011
Thomas Lidbetter; Kyle Y. Lin

A set of n boxes, located on the vertices of a hypergraph G, contain known but different rewards. A Searcher opens all the boxes in some hyperedge of G with the objective of collecting the maximum possible total reward. Some of the boxes, however, are booby trapped. If the Searcher opens a booby trapped box, the search ends and she loses all her collected rewards. We assume the number k of booby traps is known, and we model the problem as a zero-sum game between the maximizing Searcher and a minimizing Hider, where the Hider chooses k boxes to booby trap and the Searcher opens all the boxes in some hyperedge. The payoff is the total reward collected by the Searcher. This model could reflect a military operation in which a drone gathers intelligence from guarded locations, and a booby trapped box being opened corresponds to the drone being destroyed or incapacitated. It could also model a machine scheduling problem, in which rewards are obtained from successfully processing jobs but the machine may crash. We solve the game when G is a 1-uniform hypergraph (the hyperedges are all singletons), so the Searcher can open just 1 box. When G is the complete hypergraph (containing all possible hyperedges), we solve the game in a few cases: (1) same reward in each box, (2) k=1, and (3) n=4 and k=2. The solutions to these few cases indicate that a general simple, closed form solution to the game appears unlikely.

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