Integrating Queueing Theory and Scheduling for Dynamic Scheduling Problems

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Abstract

Dynamic scheduling problems consist of both challenging combinatorics, as found in classical scheduling problems, and stochastics due to uncertainty about the arrival times, resource requirements, and processing times of jobs. To address these two challenges, we investigate the integration of queueing theory and scheduling. The former reasons about long-run stochastic system characteristics, whereas the latter typically deals with short-term combinatorics. We investigate two simple problems to isolate the core differences and potential synergies between the two approaches: a two-machine dynamic flowshop and a flexible queueing network. We show for the first time that stability, a fundamental characteristic in queueing theory, can be applied to approaches that periodically solve combinatorial scheduling problems. We empirically demonstrate that for a dynamic flowshop, the use of combinatorial reasoning has little impact on schedule quality beyond queueing approaches. In contrast, for the more complicated flexible queueing network, a novel algorithm that combines long-term guidance from queueing theory with short-term combinatorial decision making outperforms all other tested approaches. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a hybrid of queueing theory and scheduling techniques has been proposed and evaluated.

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