A survey of queueing systems with strategic timing of arrivals

Moshe Haviv, Liron Ravner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Consider a population of customers, each of which needs to decide independently when to arrive to a facility that provides a service during a fixed period of time, say a day. This is a common scenario in many service systems such as a bank, lunch at a cafeteria, music concert, flight check-in and many others. High demand for service at a specific time leads to congestion that comes at a cost, for examlple, for waiting, earliness or tardiness. Queueing theory provides tools for the analysis of the waiting times and associated costs. If customers have the option of deciding when to join the queue, they will face a decision dilemma of when to arrive. The level of congestion one suffers from depends on others, behavior and not only that of the individual under consideration. This fact leads customers to make strategic decisions regarding their time of arrival. In addition, multiple decision makers that affect each other’s expected congestion call for noncooperative game-theoretical analysis of this strategic interaction. This common daily scenario has prompted a research stream pioneered by the ?/M/1 model of Glazer and Hassin (Eur J Oper Res 13(2):146–150, 1983) that first characterized an arrival process to a queue as a Nash equilibrium solution of a game. This survey provides an overview of the main results and developments in the literature on queueing systems with strategic timing of arrivals. Another issue is that of social optimality, namely the strategy profile used by customers that optimizes their aggregate utility. In particular, we review results concerning the price of anarchy (PoA), which is the ratio between the socially optimal and the equilibrium utilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-198
Number of pages36
JournalQueueing Systems
Issue number1-2
Early online date13 Aug 2021
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Bottleneck queue
  • Nash Equilibrium
  • Price of anarchy
  • Social welfare
  • Strategic queueing
  • Transient queue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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