Effect of asynchronous execution and imperfect communication on max-sum belief propagation

Roie Zivan, Ben Rachmut, Omer Perry, William Yeoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Max-sum is a version of belief propagation that was adapted for solving distributed constraint optimization problems. It has been studied theoretically and empirically, extended to versions that improve solution quality and converge rapidly, and is applicable to multiple distributed applications. The algorithm was presented both as synchronous and asynchronous algorithms. However, neither the differences in the performance of the two execution versions nor the implications of imperfect communication (i.e., massage delay and message loss) on the two versions have been investigated to the best of our knowledge. We contribute to the body of knowledge on Max-sum by: (1) Establishing the theoretical differences between the two execution versions of the algorithm, focusing on the construction of beliefs; (2) Empirically evaluating the differences between the solutions generated by the two versions of the algorithm, with and without message delay or loss; and (3) Establishing both theoretically and empirically the positive effect of damping on reducing the differences between the two versions. Our results indicate that, in contrast to recent published results indicating that message latency has a drastic (positive) effect on the performance of distributed local search algorithms, the effect of imperfect communication on Damped Max-sum (DMS) is minor. The version of Max-sum that includes both damping and splitting of function nodes converges to high quality solutions very fast, even when a large percentage of the messages sent by agents do not arrive at their destinations. Moreover, the quality of solutions in the different versions of DMS is dependent of the number of messages that were received by the agents, regardless of the amount of time they were delayed or if these messages are only a portion of the total number of messages that was sent by the agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalAutonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Belief propagation
  • Distributed constraints
  • Distributed problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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