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Restless bandit marginal productivity indices II: multiproject case and scheduling a multiclass make-to-order/-stock M/G/1 queue

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2004-02
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This paper develops a framework based on convex optimization and economic ideas to formulate and solve approximately a rich class of dynamic and stochastic resource allocation problems, fitting in a generic discrete-state multi-project restless bandit problem (RBP). It draws on the single-project framework in the author's companion paper "Restless bandit marginal productivity indices I: Single-project case and optimal control of a make-to-stock M/G/1 queue", based on characterization of a project's marginal productivity index (MPI). Our framework significantly expands the scope of Whittle (1988)'s seminal approach to the RBP. Contributions include: (i) Formulation of a generic multi-project RBP, and algorithmic solution via single-project MPIs of a relaxed problem, giving a lower bound on optimal cost performance; (ii) a heuristic MPI-based hedging point and index policy; (iii) application of the MPI policy and bound to the problem of dynamic scheduling for a multiclass combined MTO/MTS M/G/1 queue with convex backorder and stock holding cost rates, under the LRA criterion; and (iv) results of a computational study on the MPI bound and policy, showing the latter's near-optimality across the cases investigated.
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