Patience is a Virtue: The Effect of Slack on Competitiveness for Admission Control

by Michael H. Goldwasser


We consider the online competitiveness for scheduling a single resource non-preemptively in order to maximize its utilization. Our work examines this model when parameterizing an instance by a new value which we term the patience. This parameter measures each job's willingness to endure a delay before starting, relative to this same job's processing time. Specifically, the slack of a job is defined as the gap between its release time and the last possible time at which it may be started while still meeting its deadline. We say that a problem instance has patience κ, if each job with length |J| has a slack of at least κ · |J|.

Without any restrictions placed on the job characteristics, previous lower bounds show that no algorithm, deterministic or randomized, can guarantee a constant bound on the competitiveness of a resulting schedule. Previous researchers have analyzed a problem instance by parameterizing based on the ratio between the longest job's processing time and the shortest job's processing time. Our main contribution is to provide a fine-grained analysis of the problem when simultaneously parameterized by patience and the range of job lengths. We are able to give tight or almost tight bounds on the deterministic competitiveness for all parameter combinations.

If viewing the analysis of each parameter individually, our evidence suggests that parameterizing solely on patience provides a richer analysis then parameterizing solely on the ratio of the job lengths. For example, in the special case where all jobs have the same length, we generalize a previous bound of 2 for the deterministic competitiveness with arbitrary slacks, showing that the competitiveness for any κ >= 0 is exactly 1+1/(⌊κ⌋+1). Without any bound on the job lengths, a simple greedy algorithm is (2+1/κ)-competitive for any κ>0. More generally we will find that for any fixed ratio of job lengths, the competitiveness of the problem tends towards 1 as the patience is increased. The converse is not true, as for any fixed κ>0 we find that the competitiveness is bounded away from 1, no matter what further restrictions are placed on the ratio of job lengths.

Patience is a Virtue: The Effect of Slack on Competitiveness for Admission Control
Michael H. Goldwasser
Journal of Scheduling, 6(2):183-211, 2003.
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A preliminary version originally appeared in:
Proceedings of the Tenth Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA), Baltimore, Maryland, Jan. 1999, pp. 396-405.
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Michael Goldwasser