Fairness for Workers Who Pull the Arms: An Index Based Policy for Allocation of Restless Bandit TasksDownload PDF

16 May 2022 (modified: 27 Jun 2024)NeurIPS 2022 SubmittedReaders: Everyone
Keywords: sequential planning, load balancing, Whittle indices, markov decision processes
Abstract: Motivated by applications such as machine repair, project monitoring, and anti-poaching patrol scheduling, we study intervention planning of stochastic processes under resource constraints. This planning problem has previously been modeled as restless multi-armed bandits (RMAB), where each arm is an intervention-dependent Markov Decision Process. However, the existing literature assumes all intervention resources belong to a single uniform pool, limiting their applicability to real-world settings where interventions are carried out by a set of workers, each with their own costs, budgets, and intervention effects. In this work, we consider a novel RMAB setting, called multi-worker restless bandits (MWRMAB) with heterogeneous workers. The goal is to plan an intervention schedule that maximizes the expected reward while satisfying budget constraints on each worker as well as fairness in terms of the load assigned to each worker. Our contributions are two-fold: (1)~we provide a multi-worker extension of the Whittle index to tackle heterogeneous costs and per-worker budget and (2)~ we develop an index-based scheduling policy to achieve fairness. Further, we evaluate our method on various cost structures and show that our method significantly outperforms other baselines in terms of fairness without sacrificing much in reward accumulated.
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