The computational power of population protocols

Dana Angluin, James Aspnes, David Eisenstat, and Eric Ruppert. The computational power of population protocols. Distributed Computing 20(4):279–304, November 2007. (PODC 2006 special issue.) Incorporates material previously appearing in OPODIS 2005 and PODC 2006. Available as arXiv:cs.CC/0608084.


We consider the model of population protocols introduced by Angluin et al., in which anonymous finite-state agents stably compute a predicate of the multiset of their inputs via two-way interactions in the all-pairs family of communication networks. We prove that all predicates stably computable in this model (and certain generalizations of it) are semilinear, answering a central open question about the power of the model. Removing the assumption of two-way interaction, we also consider several variants of the model in which agents communicate by anonymous message-passing where the recipient of each message is chosen by an adversary and the sender is not identified to the recipient. These one-way models are distinguished by whether messages are delivered immediately or after a delay, whether a sender can record that it has sent a message, and whether a recipient can queue incoming messages, refusing to accept new messages until it has had a chance to send out messages of its own. We characterize the classes of predicates stably computable in each of these one-way models using natural subclasses of the semilinear predicates.


title="The computational power of population protocols",
author="Dana Angluin and James Aspnes and David Eisenstat and Eric Ruppert",
journal={Distributed Computing},
month = nov,
year = 2007,

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