Pandora’s Problem with Deadlines

Ben Berger, Tomer Ezra, Michal Feldman, Federico Fusco

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Pandora’s problem is a fundamental model that studies optimal search under costly inspection. In the classic version, there are n boxes, each associated with a known cost and a known distribution over values. A strategy inspects the boxes sequentially and obtains a utility that equals the difference between the maximum value of an inspected box and the total inspection cost. Weitzman (1979) presented a surprisingly simple strategy that obtains the optimal expected utility. In this work we introduce a new variant of Pandora’s problem in which every box is also associated with a publicly known deadline, indicating the final round by which its value may be chosen. This model captures many real-life scenarios where alternatives admit deadlines, such as candidate interviews and college admissions. Our main result is an efficient threshold-based strategy that achieves a constant approximation relative to the performance of the optimal strategy for the deadlines setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20337-20343
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Issue number18
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2024
Event38th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2024 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 20 Feb 202427 Feb 2024


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