, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 115-145

Polling and greedy servers on a line

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Abstract

A single server moves with speed υ on a line interval (or a circle) of length (circumference)L. Customers, requiring service of constant durationb, arrive on the interval (or circle) at random at mean rate λ customers per unit length per unit time. A customer's mean wait for service depends partly on the rules governing the server's motion. We compare two different servers: thepolling server and thegreedy server. Without knowing the locations of waiting customers, a polling server scans endlessly back and forth across the interval (or clockwise around the circle), stopping only where it encounters a waiting customer. Knowing where customers are waiting, a greedy server always travels toward the current nearest one. Except for certain extreme values of υ,L, b, andλ, the polling and greedy servers are roughly equally effective. Indeed, the simpler polling server is often the better. Theoretical results show, in most cases, that the polling server has a high probability of moving toward the nearest customer, i.e. moving as a greedy server would. The greedy server is difficult to analyze, but was simulated on a computer.