ECE Seminar or Event

To Queue or Not to Queue: Strategic Behavior in Queueing Systems

Rahul Jain

Assistant Professor
University of Southern California
Monday, March 12, 2012
09:00am - 10:00am
1005 EECS


About the Event

The Internet is seeing an increasing mix of voice and streaming video traffic, which requires resource provisioning to guarantee a Quality of Service (QoS). Provisioning for QoS on the Internet is one of the big challenges networking faces today. The impediments are primarily economic, as the network algorithms and protocols designed without taking economic incentives of agents into account have failed to either get adopted, or work properly. There is thus a need to study strategic interaction in queueing theoretic models. We first introduce the ``concert arrival game". This new model is introduced to capture the tradeoff in decision-making when users must decide whether to arrive early and wait in a queue, or arrive late but miss out on opportunities (e.g., best seats at a concert). With such decision-making by the users, it is a folly to assume that the arrival process is exogenous, and a well-behaved renewal Poisson process. Under the fluid model, we characterize the equilibrium arrival profile. We then introduce a related but new F/G/1 queueing model, for which we derive the fluid and diffusion process approximations. Such models can be useful with finite population sizes when transients become important. In the second part of the talk, we study strategic competition between queued service providers. Each queue is operated by an independent provider, and providers pose service prices for various classes. Users choose to join a queue/provider and a class depending on the QoS (expected delay) seen as well as prices. We give conditions for existence of a Nash equilibrium in such a queueing game, and then establish bounds on the Price of Anarchy (loss in efficiency) due to the strategic pricing and competition between the providers. We show that up to 1/3rd of social welfare can be lost due to strategic pricing by the providers despite the competition.


Rahul Jain is the Kenneth Dahlberg Early Career Chair and an Assistant Professor in the EE & ISE Departments at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. He received his B.Tech in EE from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, an MS in ECE from Rice University, and an MA in Statistics and a PhD in EECS from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining USC in Fall 2008, he spent two years at the IBM T J Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY. He has received numerous awards including the NSF CAREER award in 2010, an IBM Faculty award in 2010, a Best paper award at The ValueTools Conference 2009, and James H. Zumberge Faculty Research and Innovation Award in 2009. His interests span communication network analysis with focus on network economics and game theory, stochastic models, optimization and learning.

Additional Information

Contact: Linda Scovel

Phone: 763-3260


Sponsor: ECE

Open to: Public