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Want to Gather? No Need to Chatter!

Abstract : A team of mobile agents, starting from different nodes of an unknown network, possibly at different times, have to meet at the same node and declare that they have all met. Agents have different labels which are positive integers, and move in synchronous rounds along links of the network. The above task is known as gathering and was traditionally considered under the assumption that when some agents are at the same node then they can talk, i.e., exchange currently available information. In this paper we ask the question of whether this ability of talking is needed for gathering. The answer turns out to be no. Our main contribution are two deterministic algorithms that always accomplish gathering in a much weaker model. We only assume that at any time an agent knows how many agents are at the node that it currently occupies but agents do not see the labels of other co-located agents and cannot exchange any information with them. They also do not see other nodes than the current one. Our first algorithm works under the assumption that agents know a priori some upper bound N on the size of the network, and it works in time polynomial in N and in the length of the smallest label. Our second algorithm does not assume any a priori knowledge about the network but its complexity is exponential in the size of the network and in the labels of agents. Its purpose is to show feasibility of gathering under this harsher scenario. As a by-product of our techniques we obtain, in the same weak model, the solution of the fundamental problem of leader election among agents: One agent is elected a leader and all agents learn its identity. As an application of our result we also solve, in the same model, the well-known gossiping problem: if each agent has a message at the beginning, we show how to make all messages known to all agents, even without any a priori knowledge about the network. If agents know an upper bound N on the size of the network then our gossiping algorithm works in time polynomial in N , in the length of the smallest label and in the length of the largest message. This result about gossiping is perhaps our most surprising finding: agents devoid of any transmitting devices can solve the most general information exchange problem, as long as they can count the number of agents present at visited nodes.
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https://hal.inria.fr/hal-03138303
Contributor : Yoann Dieudonné Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 9:49:21 AM
Last modification on : Friday, January 21, 2022 - 3:19:10 AM

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Sébastien Bouchard, Yoann Dieudonné, Andrzej Pelc. Want to Gather? No Need to Chatter!. PODC '20 - 39th Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, Aug 2020, Salerno / Virtual, Italy. pp.253-262, ⟨10.1145/3382734.3405693⟩. ⟨hal-03138303⟩

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