Skip to Main Content
Motivated partially by a control-theoretic viewpoint, we propose a game-theoretic model, called random access game, for contention control. We characterize Nash equilibria of random access games, study their dynamics, and propose distributed algorithms (strategy evolutions) to achieve Nash equilibria. This provides a general analytical framework that is capable of modeling a large class of system-wide quality-of-service (QoS) models via the specification of per-node utility functions, in which system-wide fairness or service differentiation can be achieved in a distributed manner as long as each node executes a contention resolution algorithm that is designed to achieve the Nash equilibrium. We thus propose a novel medium access method derived from carrier sense multiple access/collision avoidance (CSMA/CA) according to distributed strategy update mechanism achieving the Nash equilibrium of random access game. We present a concrete medium access method that adapts to a continuous contention measure called conditional collision probability, stabilizes the network into a steady state that achieves optimal throughput with targeted fairness (or service differentiation), and can decouple contention control from handling failed transmissions. In addition to guiding medium access control design, the random access game model also provides an analytical framework to understand equilibrium and dynamic properties of different medium access protocols.