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On the optimality of threshold control in queues with model uncertainty


We consider a single-stage queuing system where arrivals and departures are modeled by point processes with stochastic intensities. An arrival incurs a cost, while a departure earns a revenue. The objective is to maximize the profit by controlling the intensities subject to capacity limits and holding costs. When the stochastic model for arrival and departure processes are completely known, then a threshold policy is known to be optimal. Many times arrival and departure processes can not be accurately modeled and controlled due to lack of sufficient calibration data or inaccurate assumptions. We prove that a threshold policy is optimal under a max–min robust model when the uncertainty in the processes is characterized by relative entropy. Our model generalizes the standard notion of relative entropy to account for different levels of model uncertainty in arrival and departure processes. We also study the impact of uncertainty levels on the optimal threshold control.

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