Journal of the Operational Research Society

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 379–389

Generalised ‘join the shortest queue’ policies for the dynamic routing of jobs to multi-class queues


  • P S Ansell
    • Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • K D Glazebrook
    • University of Edinburgh
  • C Kirkbride
    • Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne
Theoretical Paper

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jors.2601504

Cite this article as:
Ansell, P., Glazebrook, K. & Kirkbride, C. J Oper Res Soc (2003) 54: 379. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jors.2601504


Jobs or customers arrive and require service that may be provided at one of several different stations. The associated routing problems concern how customers may be assigned to stations in an optimal manner. Much of the classical literature concerns a single class of customers seeking service from a collection of homogeneous stations. We argue that many contemporary application areas call for the analysis of routing problems in which many classes of customer seek service provided at a collection of diverse stations. This paper is the first to consider routing policies in such complex environments which take appropriate account of the degree of congestion at each service station. A simple and intuitive class of policies emerges from a policy improvement approach. In a numerical study, the policies were close to optimal in all cases.


dynamic programmingheuristicsmulti-class queuesroutingscheduling

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2003