Service systems with finite and heterogeneous customer arrivals

Rowan Wang, Oualid Jouini, Saif Benjaafar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We consider service systems with a finite number of customer arrivals, where customer interarrival times and service times are both stochastic and heterogeneous. Applications of such systems are numerous and include systems where arrivals are driven by events or service completions in serial processes as well as systems where servers are subject to learning or fatigue. Using an embedded Markov chain approach, we characterize the waiting time distribution for each customer, from which we obtain various performance measures of interest, including the expected waiting time of a specific customer, the expected waiting time of an arbitrary customer, and the expected completion time of all customers. We carry out extensive numerical experiments to examine the effect of heterogeneity in interarrival and service times. In particular, we examine cases where interarrival and service times increase with each subsequent arrival or service completion, decrease, increase and then decrease, or decrease and then increase. We derive several managerial insights and discuss implications for settings where such features can be induced. We validate the numerical results using a fluid approximation that yields closed-form expressions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-380
Number of pages16
JournalManufacturing and Service Operations Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Finite arrivals
  • Fluid approximation
  • Heterogeneous interarrival and service times
  • Queueing systems
  • Transient analysis


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