Online Allocation of Reusable Resources via Algorithms Guided by Fluid Approximations

10/08/2020
by   Vineet Goyal, et al.
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We consider the problem of online allocation (matching and assortments) of reusable resources where customers arrive sequentially in an adversarial fashion and allocated resources are used or rented for a stochastic duration that is drawn independently from known distributions. Focusing on the case of large inventory, we give an algorithm that is (1-1/e) competitive for general usage distributions. At the heart of our result is the notion of a relaxed online algorithm that is only subjected to fluid approximations of the stochastic elements in the problem. The output of this algorithm serves as a guide for the final algorithm. This leads to a principled approach for seamlessly addressing stochastic elements (such as reusability, customer choice, and combinations thereof) in online resource allocation problems, that may be useful more broadly.

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