When is Information Sufficient for Action? Search with Unreliable Yet Informative Intelligence
Atkinson, Michael P.
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We analyze a variant of the whereabouts search problem, in which a searcher looks for a target hiding in one of n possible locations. Unlike in the classic version, our searcher does not pursue the target by actively moving from one location to the next. Instead, the searcher receives a stream of intelligence about the location of the target. At any time, the searcher can engage the location he thinks contains the target or wait for more intelligence. The searcher incurs costs when he engages the wrong location, based on insufficient intelligence, or waits too long in the hopes of gaining better situational awareness, which allows the target to either execute his plot or disappear. We formulate the searcher’s decision as an optimal stopping problem and establish conditions for optimally executing this search-and-interdict mission.
The article of record may be found at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/opre.2016.1488
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