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Modeling Load and Overwork Effects in Queueing Systems with Adaptive Service Rates


  • Mohammad Delasay

    () (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213)

  • Armann Ingolfsson

    () (Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6, Canada)

  • Bora Kolfal

    () (Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6, Canada)


Servers in many real queueing systems do not work at a constant speed. They adapt to the system state by speeding up when the system is highly loaded or slowing down when load has been high for an extended time period. Their speed can also be constrained by other factors, such as geography or a downstream blockage. We develop a state-dependent queueing model in which the service rate depends on the system “load” and “overwork.” Overwork refers to a situation where the system has been under a heavy load for an extended time period. We quantify load as the number of users in the system, and we operationalize overwork with a state variable that is incremented with each service completion in a high-load period and decremented at a rate that is proportional to the number of idle servers during low-load periods. Our model is a quasi-birth-and-death process with a special structure that we exploit to develop efficient and easy-to-implement algorithms to compute system performance measures. We use the analytical model and simulation to demonstrate how using models that ignore adaptive server behavior can result in inconsistencies between planned and realized performance and can lead to suboptimal, unstable, or oscillatory staffing decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Mohammad Delasay & Armann Ingolfsson & Bora Kolfal, 2016. "Modeling Load and Overwork Effects in Queueing Systems with Adaptive Service Rates," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 64(4), pages 867-885, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:64:y:2016:i:4:p:867-885

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