• Markov decision processes;
  • queues;
  • Markov-modulated


We consider the problem of service rate control of a single-server queueing system with a finite-state Markov-modulated Poisson arrival process. We show that the optimal service rate is nondecreasing in the number of customers in the system; higher congestion levels warrant higher service rates. On the contrary, however, we show that the optimal service rate is not necessarily monotone in the current arrival rate. If the modulating process satisfies a stochastic monotonicity property, the monotonicity is recovered. We examine several heuristics and show where heuristics are reasonable substitutes for the optimal control. None of the heuristics perform well in all the regimes and the fluctuation rate of the modulating process plays an important role in deciding the right heuristic. Second, we discuss when the Markov-modulated Poisson process with service rate control can act as a heuristic itself to approximate the control of a system with a periodic nonhomogeneous Poisson arrival process. Not only is the current model of interest in the control of Internet or mobile networks with bursty traffic, but it is also useful in providing a tractable alternative for the control of service centers with nonstationary arrival rates. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 60: 661–677, 2013