Searching for an agent who may or may not want to be found

Steve Alpern, Shmuel Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an extensive theory regarding optimal continuous path search for a mobile or immobile "target." The traditional theory assumes that the target is one of three types: (i) an object with a known distribution of paths, (ii) a mobile or immobile hider who wants to avoid or delay capture, or (iii) a rendezvouser who wants to find the searcher. This paper introduces a new type of search problem by assuming that aims of the target are not known to the searcher. The target may be either a type (iii) cooperator (with a known cooperation probability c) or a type (ii) evader. This formulation models search problems like that for a lost teenager who may be a "runaway," or a lost intelligence agent who may be a defector. In any given search context, it produces a continuum of search problems τF(c), 0 ≤ c ≤ 1, linking a zero-sum search game (with c = 0) to a rendezvous problem (with c = 1). These models thus provide a theoretical bridge between two previously distinct parts of search theory, namely search games and rendezvous search.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-323
Number of pages13
JournalOperations Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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