Attenuate Locally, Win Globally: Attenuation-Based Frameworks for Online Stochastic Matching with Timeouts

Brian Brubach, Karthik A. Sankararaman, Aravind Srinivasan, Pan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Online matching problems have garnered significant attention in recent years due to numerous applications in e-commerce, online advertisements, ride-sharing, etc. Many of them capture the uncertainty in the real world by including stochasticity in both the arrival and matching processes. The online stochastic matching with timeouts problem introduced by Bansal et al. (Algorithmica, 2012) models matching markets (e.g., E-Bay, Amazon). Buyers arrive from an independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) known distribution on buyer profiles and can be shown a list of items one at a time. Each buyer has some probability of purchasing each item and a limit (timeout) on the number of items they can be shown. Bansal et al. (Algorithmica, 2012) gave a 0.12-competitive algorithm which was improved by Adamczyk et al. (ESA, 2015) to 0.24. We present several online attenuation frameworks that use an algorithm for offline stochastic matching as a black box. On the upper bound side, we show that one framework, combined with a black-box adapted from Bansal et al. (Algorithmica, 2012), yields an online algorithm which nearly doubles the ratio to 0.46. Additionally, our attenuation frameworks extend to the more general setting of fractional arrival rates for online vertices. On the lower bound side, we show that no algorithm can achieve a ratio better than 0.632 using the standard LP for this problem. This framework has a high potential for further improvements since new algorithms for offline stochastic matching can directly improve the ratio for the online problem. Our online frameworks also have the potential for a variety of extensions. For example, we introduce a natural generalization: online stochastic matching with two-sided timeouts in which both online and offline vertices have timeouts. Our frameworks provide the first algorithm for this problem achieving a ratio of 0.30. We once again use the algorithm of Bansal et al. (Algorithmica, 2012) as a black-box and plug it into one of our frameworks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-87
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Bipartite matching
  • Online algorithms
  • Randomized algorithms


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