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Restless Bandits: Activity Allocation in a Changing World

P. Whittle
Journal of Applied Probability
Vol. 25, A Celebration of Applied Probability (1988), pp. 287-298
DOI: 10.2307/3214163
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3214163
Page Count: 12
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Restless Bandits: Activity Allocation in a Changing World
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Abstract

We consider a population of n projects which in general continue to evolve whether in operation or not (although by different rules). It is desired to choose the projects in operation at each instant of time so as to maximise the expected rate of reward, under a constraint upon the expected number of projects in operation. The Lagrange multiplier associated with this constraint defines an index which reduces to the Gittins index when projects not being operated are static. If one is constrained to operate m projects exactly then arguments are advanced to support the conjecture that, for m and n large in constant ratio, the policy of operating the m projects of largest current index is nearly optimal. The index is evaluated for some particular projects.

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