The downside of heterogeneity: How established relations counteract systemic adaptivity in tasks assignments

11/20/2021
by   Giona Casiraghi, et al.
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We study the lock-in effect in a network of task assignments. Agents have a heterogeneous fitness for solving tasks and can redistribute unfinished tasks to other agents. They learn over time to whom to reassign tasks and preferably choose agents with higher fitness. A lock-in occurs if reassignments can no longer adapt. Agents overwhelmed with tasks then fail, leading to failure cascades. We find that the probability for lock-ins and systemic failures increase with the heterogeneity in fitness values. To study this dependence, we use the Shannon entropy of the network of task assignments. A detailed discussion links our findings to the problem of resilience and observations in social systems.

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