Co-utility: Designing Self-enforcing and Mutually Beneficial Protocols

  • Josep Domingo-FerrerEmail author
  • David Sánchez
  • Jordi Soria-Comas
Part of the Studies in Systems, Decision and Control book series (SSDC, volume 110)


Protocols govern the interactions between agents, both in the information society and in the society at large. Protocols based on mutually beneficial cooperation are especially interesting because they improve the societal welfare and no central authority is needed to enforce them (which eliminates a single point of failure and possible bottlenecks). In order to guide the design of such protocols, we introduce co-utility as a framework for cooperation between rational agents such that the best strategy for each agent is to help another agent achieve her best outcome. Specifically, in this chapter we study and characterize self-enforcing protocols in game-theoretic terms. Then, we use this characterization to develop the concept of co-utile protocol and study under which circumstances co-utility arises.



Funding by the Templeton World Charity Foundation (grant TWCF0095/AB60 “CO-UTILITY”) is gratefully acknowledged. Also, partial support to this work has been received from the Government of Catalonia (ICREA Acadèmia Prize to J. Domingo-Ferrer and grant 2014 SGR 537), the Spanish Government (projects TIN2014-57364-C2-1-R “SmartGlacis”, TIN2015-70054-REDC and TIN2016-80250-R “Sec-MCloud”) and the European Commission (projects H2020-644024 “CLARUS” and H2020-700540 “CANVAS”). The authors are with the UNESCO Chair in Data Privacy, but the views in this work are the authors’ own and are not necessarily shared by UNESCO or any of the funding bodies.


  1. 1.
    Brooks, R.R.W., Landeo, C.M., Spier, K.E.: Trigger happy or gun shy? Dissolving common-value partnerships with Texas shootouts. RAND J. Econ. 41(4), 649–673 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Buragohain, C., Agrawal, D., Suri, S.: A game theoretic framework for incentives in P2P systems. In: Shahmehri, N., Graham, R.L., Caronni, G. (eds.) Peer-to-Peer Computing, IEEE Computer Society, pp. 48–56 (2003)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chalkiadakis, G., Elkind, E., Wooldridge, M.: Cooperative game theory: basic concepts and computational challenges. IEEE Intell. Syst. 27(3), 86–90 (2012)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dodis, Y., Rabin, T.: Cryptography and game theory. In: Nisan, N., et al. (eds.) Algorithmic Game Theory, pp. 181–205. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., Farràs, O., Martínez, S., Sánchez, D., Soria-Comas, J.: Self-enforcing protocols via co-utile reputation management. Inf. Sci. 367(C):159–175 (2016)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., González-Nicolás, Ú.: Rational behavior in peer-to-peer profile obfuscation for anonymous keyword search. Inf. Sci. 185, 191–204 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., González-Nicolás, Ú.: Rational behavior in peer-to-peer profile obfuscation for anonymous keyword search: the multi-hop scenario. Inf. Sci. 200, 123–134 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., Martínez, S., Sánchez, D., Soria-Comas, J.: Co-utility: self-enforcing protocols for the mutual benefit of participants. Eng. Appl. Artif. Intell. 59, 148–158 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., Megías, D.: Co-utility for digital content protection and digital forgetting. In: Proceedings of the 15th Annual Mediterranean Ad Hoc Networking Workshop, MedHocNet 2016, pp. 1–7. IEEE, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., Sánchez, D., Soria-Comas, J.: Co-utility: self-enforcing collaborative protocols with mutual help. Prog. Artif. Intell. 5(2), 105–110 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Domingo-Ferrer, J., Soria-Comas, J., Ciobotaru, O.: Co-utility: self-enforcing protocols without coordination mechanisms. In: Proceedings of the 2015 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, IEOM 2015, pp. 1–17. IEEE, New York (2016)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Friedman, E.J., Halpern, J.Y., Kash, I.A.: Efficiency and nash equilibria in a scrip system for P2P networks. In: Eigenbaum, J., Chuang, J.C.-I., Pennock, D.M. (eds.) EC’06, pp. 140–149. ACM, Boston (2006)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kuhn, H.W.: Extensive games and the problem of information. In: Kuhn, H.W., Tucker, A. (eds.) Classics in Game Theory, pp. 193–216. Princeton University Press, Princeton (1953)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Leyton-Brown, K., Shoham, Y.: Essentials of Game Theory: A Concise, Multidisciplinary Introduction . Morgan & Claypool, San Rafael (2008)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Luce, R.D., Raiffa, H.: Games and Decisions: An Introduction and Critical Survey. Wiley, New York (1957)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Maskin, E.: Nash equilibrium and welfare optimality. Rev. Econ. Stud. 66(1), 23–28 (1999)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nisan, N.: Algorithmic mechanism design. In: Handbook of Game Theory, pp. 477–516. Elsevier, Amsterdam (2014)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Osborne, M., Rubinstein, A.: A Course in Game Theory. MIT Press, Cambridge (1994)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Papamarcos, M.S., Patel, J.H.: A low-overhead coherence solution for multiprocessors with private cache memories. In: Agrawal, D.P. (ed.) ISCA, pp. 348–354. ACM, Boston (1984)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rahman, R., Vinkó, T., Hales, D., Pouwelse, J.A., Sips, H.J.: Design space analysis for modeling incentives in distributed systems. In: Keshav, S., Liebeherr, J., Byers, J.W., Mogul, J.C. (eds.) SIGCOMM, pp. 182–193. ACM, Boston (2011)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sánchez, D., Martínez, S., Domingo-Ferrer, J.: Comment on ‘Unique in the shopping mall: on the reidentificability of credit card metadata’. Science 351, 1274 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sánchez, D., Martínez, S., Domingo-Ferrer, J.: Co-utile P2P ridesharing via decentralization and reputation management. Transp. Res. Part C 73, 147–166 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Schneier, B.: The value of self-enforcing protocols. In: ThreatPost. (2009). Accessed 17 Jan 2016
  24. 24.
    Soria-Comas, J., Domingo-Ferrer, J.: Co-utile collaborative anonymization of microdata. In: Torra, V., Narukawa, Y. (eds.) MDAI. LNCS 9321, pp. 192–206. Springer, Heidelberg (2015)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Soria-Comas, J., Domingo-Ferrer, J.: Big data privacy: challenges to privacy principles and models. Data Sci. Eng. 1(1), 21–28 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Turi, A.N., Domingo-Ferrer, J., Sánchez, D., Osmani D.: Co-utility: conciliating individual freedom on common good in the crowd based business model. In: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on e-Business Engineering, ICBE 2015, pp. 62–67. IEEE, New York (2015)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Turi, A.N., Domingo-Ferrer, J., Sánchez, D., Osmani, D.: A co-utility approach to the mesh economy: the crowd-based business model. Rev. Manag. Sci. (2016, in press)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Turi, A.N., Domingo-Ferrer, J., Sánchez, D.: Filtering P2P loans based on co-utile reputation. In: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Applied Computing, AC 2016, pp. 139–146 (2016)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Vickrey, W.: Counterspeculation, auctions, and competitive sealed tenders. J. Finance 16(1), 8–37 (1961)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josep Domingo-Ferrer
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Sánchez
    • 1
  • Jordi Soria-Comas
    • 1
  1. 1.UNESCO Chair in Data Privacy, Department of Computer Science and MathematicsUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliTarragona, CataloniaSpain

Personalised recommendations