Hierarchical information networks are important in applications where the information management must support an existing tree-structured organization. Embedded computer-communication systems in military applications, with a dominant hierarchical command structure, are the most prominent examples. Also typical of such applications is the variability in message demand (both sources and intensity) depending on the external conditions encountered by the encapsulating system (the system supported by the embedded computer-communication system). Using a queueing network model for a hierarchical information network, we compare the effect of limited dynamic reconfiguration on expected transmission delays. The limited reconfigurability takes the form of apex transition among a proper subset of the communication nodes designated as the apex candidate set. Each apex candidate can assume the ultimate position under designated conditions. This network architecture is called a dynamic hierarchy. The model includes N + 1 nodes (0, …, N) with 0 identifying the apex node. We assume that message processing at each node is described by an M/M/1 model (single server with Poisson arrivals and exponential service times). Further message transfers among the nodes are served by communication links which also behave as M/M/1 queues.
Two distinctive features characterize the queueing network model:
1. The assignment of a set of weights to the nodes dependent on the hierarchical level reflects the increasing importance of information as it is transferred to higher levels.
2. The dynamic hierarchy requires a communications protocol that partitions the analysis of network delay into three periods: regular operation, reconfiguration, and adjustment. Characterization of the performance of the dynamic hierarchy entails the description of message transmission delay as a composite of the three periods.