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Open AccessArticle

Bifurcation Mechanism Design—From Optimal Flat Taxes to Better Cancer Treatments

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78705, USA
Integrated Mathematical Oncology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
Engineering Systems and Design (ESD), Singapore University of Technology and Design, 8 Somapah Road, Singapore 487372, Singapore
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Games 2018, 9(2), 21;
Received: 25 February 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 18 April 2018 / Published: 26 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Game Theory and Cancer)
PDF [1225 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


Small changes to the parameters of a system can lead to abrupt qualitative changes of its behavior, a phenomenon known as bifurcation. Such instabilities are typically considered problematic, however, we show that their power can be leveraged to design novel types of mechanisms. Hysteresis mechanisms use transient changes of system parameters to induce a permanent improvement to its performance via optimal equilibrium selection. Optimal control mechanisms induce convergence to states whose performance is better than even the best equilibrium. We apply these mechanisms in two different settings that illustrate the versatility of bifurcation mechanism design. In the first one we explore how introducing flat taxation could improve social welfare, despite decreasing agent “rationality,” by destabilizing inefficient equilibria. From there we move on to consider a well known game of tumor metabolism and use our approach to derive potential new cancer treatment strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: game theory; cancer; economics; hysteresis game theory; cancer; economics; hysteresis

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Yang, G.; Basanta, D.; Piliouras, G. Bifurcation Mechanism Design—From Optimal Flat Taxes to Better Cancer Treatments. Games 2018, 9, 21.

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