Searching for an Agent who may or may not Want to be Found

  • Alpern S
  • Gal S
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There is an extensive theory regarding optimal continuous path search for a mobile or immobile ``target.'' The traditional theory assumes that the target is one of three types: (i) an object with a known distribution of paths, (ii) a mobile or immobile hider who wants to avoid or delay capture, or (iii) a rendezvouser who wants to find the searcher. The paper introduces a new type of search problem by assuming that the aims of the target are not known to the searcher. The target may be either a type (iii) cooperator (with a known cooperation probability $c$) or a type (ii) evader. This formulation models search problems like that for a lost teenager who may be a ``runaway,'' or a lost intelligence agent who may be a defector. In any given search context, it produces a continuum of search problems $\Gamma(c), 0 \leq c \leq 1$, linking a zero-sum search game (with $c=0$) to a rendezvous problem (with $c=1$). These models thus procide a theoretical bridge between two previously distinct parts of search theory, namely search games and rendezvous search.

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  • Steve Alpern

  • Shmuel Gal

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