Social Cost of Deviation: New and Old Results onOptimal Customer Behavior in Queues

Moshe Haviv*, Binyamin Oz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We revisit some of the classic optimization problems in single- and multi-server queueing systems. We look at these problems as strategic games, using the concept of social cost of deviation (SCoD), which is the extra cost associated with a customer who deviates from the socially prescribed strategy. In particular, we show that a necessary condition for a symmetric profile to be socially optimal is that any deviation from it, if done by a single customer, is suboptimal; that is, the corresponding SCoD is nonnegative. We exemplify this by characterizing the socially optimal strategies for unobservable and observable “to queue or not to queue” problems and for multi-server selection problems. We then use the SCoD concept to derive the symmetric socially optimal strategy in a two-person game of strategic timing of arrival. Furthermore, we show that this strategy is also the symmetric Nash equilibrium strategy if the service regime is of random order with preemption.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)31-58
Number of pages28
JournalQueueing Models and Service Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Kaoyian Press. All rights reserved.


  • Social cost of deviation
  • social optimization
  • strategic behavior in queues


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