Clustered Volatility in Multiagent Systems


Large distributed multiagent systems are characterized by vast numbers of agents trying to gain access to limited resources in an unpredictable environment. Agents in these system continously switch strategies in order to opportunistically find improvements in their utilities. We have analyzed the fluctuations around equilibrium that arise from strategy switching and discovered the existence of a new phenomenon. It consists of the appearance of sudden bursts of activity that punctuate the fixed point, and is due to an effective random walk consistent with overall stability. This clustered volatility is followed by relaxation to the fixed point but with different strategy mixes from the previous one. This phenomenon is quite general for systems in which agents explore strategies in search of local improvements.