The downside of heterogeneity: How established relations counteract systemic adaptivity in tasks assignments

Giona Casiraghi, Christian Zingg and Frank Schweitzer

Entropy, 23(12), 1677 (2021)

Projects: Resilience Software Engineering


We study the lock-in effect in a network of task assignments. Agents have a heterogeneous fitness for solving tasks and can redistribute unfinished tasks to other agents. They learn over time to whom to reassign tasks and preferably choose agents with higher fitness. A lock-in occurs if reassignments can no longer adapt. Agents overwhelmed with tasks then fail, leading to failure cascades. We find that the probability for lock-ins and systemic failures increase with the heterogeneity in fitness values. To study this dependence, we use the Shannon entropy of the network of task assignments. A detailed discussion links our findings to the problem of resilience and observations in social systems.