Queueing in the mist: Buffering and scheduling with limited knowledge

Itamar Cohen, Gabriel Scalosub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Scheduling and managing queues with bounded buffers are among the most fundamental problems in computer networking. Traditionally, it is often assumed that all the properties of each packet are known immediately upon arrival. However, as traffic becomes increasingly heterogeneous and complex, such assumptions are in many cases invalid. In particular, in various scenarios information about packet characteristics becomes available only after the packet has undergone some initial processing. In this work, we study the problem of managing queues with limited knowledge. We start by showing lower bounds on the competitive ratio of any algorithm in such settings. The techniques used in our proofs, which make use of a carefully crafted Markov process, may be of independent interest, and can potentially be used in other similar settings as well. Next, we use the insight obtained from these bounds to identify several algorithmic concepts appropriate for the problem, and use these guidelines to design a concrete algorithmic framework. We analyze the performance of our proposed algorithm, and further show how it can be implemented in various settings, which differ by the type and nature of the unknown information. We further validate our results and algorithmic approach by an extensive simulation study that provides further insights as to our algorithmic design principles in face of limited knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-220
Number of pages17
JournalComputer Networks
StatePublished - 24 Dec 2018


  • Buffer management
  • Competitive analysis
  • Limited knowledge
  • Online algorithms
  • Queueing
  • Scheduling
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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