Polling systems in heavy traffic: Exhaustiveness of service policies

R. D. Van Der Mei*, H. Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We study the expected delay in cyclic polling models with general 'branching-type' service disciplines. For this class of models, which contains models with exhaustive and gated service as special cases, we obtain closed-form expressions for the expected delay under standard heavy-traffic scalings. We identify a single parameter associated with the service discipline at each queue, which we call the 'exhaustiveness'. We show that the scaled expected delay figures depend on the service policies at the queues only through the exhaustiveness of each of the service disciplines. This implies that the influence of different service disciplines, but with the same exhaustiveness, on the expected delays at the queues becomes the same when the system reaches saturation. This observation leads to a new classification of the service disciplines. In addition, we show monotonicity of the scaled expected delays with respect to the exhaustiveness of the service disciplines. This induces a complete ordering in terms of efficiency of the service disciplines. The results also lead to new rules for optimization of the system performance with respect to the service disciplines at the queues. Further, the exact asymptotic results suggest simple expected waiting-time approximations for polling models in heavy traffic. Numerical experiments show that the accuracy of the approximations is excellent for practical heavy-traffic scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-250
Number of pages24
JournalQueueing Systems
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • Classification
  • Exhaustiveness
  • Expected delay
  • Heavy traffic
  • Monotonicity
  • Polling systems
  • Service disciplines


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