When messages, which are to be sent point-to-point in a network, become available at irregular intervals, a decision must be made each time a new message becomes available as to whether it should be sent immediately or if it is better to wait for more messages and send them all together. Because of physical properties of the networks, a certain minimum amount of time must elapse in between the transmission of two packets. Thus, whereas waiting delays the transmission of the current data, sending immediately may delay the transmission of the next data to become available even more.
We consider deterministic and randomized algorithms for this on-line problem, and characterize these by tight results under a new quality measure. It is interesting to note that our results are quite different from earlier work on the problem where the physical properties of the networks were emphasized less.
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