In large-scale computer systems, deciding how to dispatch arriving jobs to servers is a primary factor affecting system performance. Consequently, there is a wealth of literature on designing, analyzing, and evaluating the performance of load balancing policies. For analytical tractability, most existing work on dispatching in large-scale systems makes a key assumption: that the servers are homogeneous, meaning that they all have the same speeds, capabilities, and available resources. But this assumption is not accurate in practice. Modern computer systems are instead heterogeneous: server farms may consist of multiple generations of hardware, servers with varied resources, or even virtual machines running in a cloud environment. Given the ubiquity of heterogeneity in today's systems, it is critically important to develop load balancing policies that perform well in heterogeneous environments. In this paper, we focus on systems in which server speeds are heterogeneous.
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