On Poisoned Wardrop Equilibrium in Congestion Games

Yunian Pan, Quanyan Zhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Recent years have witnessed a growing number of attack vectors against increasingly interconnected traffic networks. Informational attacks have emerged as the prominent ones that aim to poison traffic data, misguide users, and manipulate traffic patterns. To study the impact of this class of attacks, we propose a game-theoretic framework where the attacker, as a Stackelberg leader, falsifies the traffic conditions to change the traffic pattern predicted by the Wardrop traffic equilibrium, achieved by the users, or the followers. The intended shift of the Wardrop equilibrium is a consequence of strategic informational poisoning. Leveraging game-theoretic and sensitivity analysis, we quantify the system-level impact of the attack by characterizing the concept of poisoned Price of Anarchy, which compares the poisoned Wardrop equilibrium and its non-poisoned system optimal counterpart. We use an evacuation case study to show that the Stackelberg equilibrium can be found through a two-time scale zeroth-order learning process and demonstrate the disruptive effects of informational poisoning, indicating a compelling need for defense policies to mitigate such security threats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDecision and Game Theory for Security - 13th International Conference, GameSec 2022, Proceedings
EditorsFei Fang, Haifeng Xu, Yezekael Hayel
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9783031263682
StatePublished - 2023
Event13th International Conference on Decision and Game Theory for Security, GameSec 2022 - Pittsburgh, United States
Duration: Oct 26 2022Oct 28 2022

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13727 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference13th International Conference on Decision and Game Theory for Security, GameSec 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Adversarial attack
  • Congestion games
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Stackelberg game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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