Dynamic control of stochastic and fluid resource-sharing systems

Speaker : Maialen Larrañaga
Date: 16/12/2015
Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: LINCS Meeting Room 40


We study the dynamic control of resource-sharing systems that arise in various domains: e.g. inventory management, healthcare and communication networks. We aim at efficiently allocating the available resources among competing projects according to a certain performance criteria. These type of problems have a stochastic nature and may be very complex to solve. We therefore focus on developing well-performing heuristics. Firstly, we consider the framework of Restless Bandit Problems, which is a general class of dynamic stochastic optimization problems. Relaxing the sample-path constraint in the optimization problem enables to define an index-based heuristic for the original constrained model, the so-called Whittle index policy. We derive a closed-form expression for the Whittle index as a function of the steady-state probabilities for the case in which bandits (projects) evolve in a birth-and-death fashion. This expression requires several technical conditions to be verified, and in addition, it can only be computed explicitly in specific cases. In the particular case of a multi-class abandonment queue, we further prove that the Whittle index policy is asymptotically optimal in the light-traffic and heavy-traffic regimes. Secondly, we derive heuristics by approximating the stochastic resource-sharing systems with deterministic fluid models. We first formulate a fluid version of the relaxed optimization problem, and we develop a fluid index policy. The fluid index can always be computed explicitly and hence overcomes the technical issues that arise when calculating the Whittle index. We apply the Whittle index and the fluid index policies to several systems: e.g. power-aware server-farms, opportunistic scheduling in wireless systems, and make-to-stock problems with perishable items. We show numerically that both index policies are nearly optimal.