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A simple load balancing problem with decentralized information

Mathematical Methods of Operations Research
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The following load balancing problem is investigated in discrete time: A service system consists of two service stations and two controllers, one in front of each station. The service stations provide the same service with identical service time distributions and identical waiting costs. Customers requiring service arrive at a controller's site and are routed to one of the two stations by the controller. The processes describing the two arrival streams are identical. Each controller has perfect knowledge of the workload in its own station and receives information about the other station's workload with one unit of delay. The controllers' routing strategies that minimize the customers' total flowtime are determined for a certain range of the parameters that describe the arrival process and the service distribution. Specifically, we prove that optimal routing strategies are characterized by thresholds that are either precisely specified or take one of two possible values.

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