IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Individual versus Social Optimization in the Allocation of Customers to Alternative Servers

Listed author(s):
  • Colin E. Bell

    (University of Iowa)

  • Shaler Stidham, Jr.

    (North Carolina State University)

Registered author(s):

    Customers arrive at a service area according to a Poisson process. An arriving customer must choose one of K servers without observing present congestion levels. The only available information about the kth server is the service time distribution (with expected duration \mu k -1 ) and the cost per unit time of waiting at the kth server (h k ). Although service distributions may differ from server to server and need not be exponential, it is assumed that they share the same coefficient of variation. Individuals acting in self-interest induce an arrival rate pattern (\lambda \^ 1 , \lambda \^ 2 , ..., \lambda \^ k ). In contrast, the social optimum is the arrival rate pattern (\lambda 1 *, \lambda 2 *, ..., \lambda k *) which minimizes long-run average cost per unit time for the entire system. The main result is that \lambda \^ k 's and \lambda \^ k *'s differ systematically. Individuals overload the servers with the smallest h k /\mu k values. For an exponential service case with pre-emptive LIFO service an alternative charging scheme is presented which confirms that differences between individual and social optima occur precisely because individuals fail to consider the inconvenience that they cause to others.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 29 (1983)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 831-839

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:29:y:1983:i:7:p:831-839
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA

    Phone: +1-443-757-3500
    Fax: 443-757-3515
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:29:y:1983:i:7:p:831-839. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.