The optimal coalition structure determination problem is in general computationally hard. In this article, we identify some problem instances for which the space of possible coalition structures has a certain form and constructively prove that the problem is polynomial time solvable. Specifically, we consider games with an ordering over the players and introduce a distance metric for measuring the distance between any two structures. In terms of this metric, we define the property of monotonicity, meaning that coalition structures closer to the optimal, as measured by the metric, have higher value than those further away. Similarly, quasi-monotonicity means that part of the space of coalition structures is monotonic, while part of it is non-monotonic. (Quasi)-monotonicity is a property that can be satisfied by coalition games in characteristic function form and also those in partition function form. For a setting with a monotonic value function and a known player ordering, we prove that the optimal coalition structure determination problem is polynomial time solvable and devise such an algorithm using a greedy approach. We extend this algorithm to quasi-monotonic value functions and demonstrate how its time complexity improves from exponential to polynomial as the degree of monotonicity of the value function increases. We go further and consider a setting in which the value function is monotonic and an ordering over the players is known to exist but ordering itself is unknown. For this setting too, we prove that the coalition structure determination problem is polynomial time solvable and devise such an algorithm.
S. S. Fatima and M. Wooldridge. Computing optimal coalition structures in polynomial time. In Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s10458-018-9398-8