, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 581-612
Date: 11 May 2007

Discrete and Continuous Time Modulated Random Walks with Heavy-Tailed Increments

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We consider a modulated process S which, conditional on a background process X, has independent increments. Assuming that S drifts to −∞ and that its increments (jumps) are heavy-tailed (in a sense made precise in the paper), we exhibit natural conditions under which the asymptotics of the tail distribution of the overall maximum of S can be computed. We present results in discrete and in continuous time. In particular, in the absence of modulation, the process S in continuous time reduces to a Lévy process with heavy-tailed Lévy measure. A central point of the paper is that we make full use of the so-called “principle of a single big jump” in order to obtain both upper and lower bounds. Thus, the proofs are entirely probabilistic. The paper is motivated by queueing and Lévy stochastic networks.