We consider a problem in which a single server must serve a stream of customers whose arrivals are distributed over a finite-size convex space. Under the assumption that the server has full information on the customer location, obvious service policies are the FCFS and the greedy (serve-the-closest-customer) approaches. These algorithms are, however, either inefficient (FCFS) or ‘unfair' (greedy).
We propose and study two alternative algorithms, the gated-greedy policy and the gated-scan policy, which are more ‘fair' than the pure greedy method. We show that the stability conditions of the gated-greedy are p < 1 (where p is the expected rate at which work arrives at the system), implying that the method is at least as efficient (in terms of system stability) as any other discipline, in particular the greedy one. For the gated-scan policy we show that for any p < 1 one can design a stable gated-scan policy; however, for any fixed gated-scan policy there exists p < 1 for which the policy is unstable. We evaluate the performance of the gated-scan policy, and present bounds for the performance of the gated-greedy policy.
These results are derived for systems in which the arrivals occur on a two-dimensional space (a square) but they are not limited to this configuration; rather they hold for more complex N-dimensional spaces, in particular for serving customers in (three-dimensional) convex space and serving customers on a line.