Serving Online Requests with Mobile Servers

We study an online problem in which a set of mobile servers have to be moved in order to efficiently serve a set of requests that arrive in an online fashion. More formally, there is a set of $n$ nodes and a set of $k$ mobile servers that are placed at some of the nodes. Each node can potentially host several servers and the servers can be moved between the nodes. There are requests $1,2,\ldots$ that are adversarially issued at nodes one at a time. An issued request at time $t$ needs to be served at all times $t' \geq t$. The cost for serving the requests is a function of the number of servers and requests at the different nodes. The requirements on how to serve the requests are governed by two parameters $\alpha\geq 1$ and $\beta\geq 0$. An algorithm needs to guarantee at all times that the total service cost remains within a multiplicative factor of $\alpha$ and an additive term $\beta$ of the current optimal service cost. We consider online algorithms for two different minimization objectives. We first consider the natural problem of minimizing the total number of server movements. We show that in this case for every $k$, the competitive ratio of every deterministic online algorithm needs to be at least $\Omega(n)$. Given this negative result, we then extend the minimization objective to also include the current service cost. We give almost tight bounds on the competitive ratio of the online problem where one needs to minimize the sum of the total number of movements and the current service cost. In particular, we show that at the cost of an additional additive term which is roughly linear in $k$, it is possible to achieve a multiplicative competitive ratio of $1+\varepsilon$ for every constant $\varepsilon>0$.

Comments: 25 pages

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