Robust Approval Process in the Face of Strategic Adversaries and Normal Applicants
Jun Zhuang Principal Investigator
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The objective of this award is to explore a new class of decision models to provide structural insights for robust screening when dealing with adaptive applicants and incomplete information. This research is motivated by public concerns on balancing congestion and safety due to security screening. Such screening has been used to identify and deter potential threats (e.g., terrorists, attackers, smugglers, spies) among normal applicants wishing to enter an organization, location, or facility. In-depth screening could reduce the risk of being attacked. However it may also create delays and deter normal applicants, which decreases the welfare of both the approver (authority, manager, screener) and the normal applicants. This research will consider the factors of security, congestion, equity, and the strategic and non-strategic responses from various applicant types. In particular, this research will study the applicants' strategies of applying, reneging, learning, and deceiving. This research will also study the approver's strategies of screening, dynamic service rates, multiple-servers and priority processing, multi-layer screening, and secrecy and deception. <br/><br/>If successful, this research will lead to new frameworks that decision makers can use for screening diverse groups of strategic applicants. These new frameworks have the potential to reduce costs, avoid unnecessary waiting and inconvenience, and improve effectiveness and efficiency of the approval processes. Potential applications of this research include immigration systems, job market background checks, and airport/container/border controls. The relevance is illustrated by the recent national debate on selective "pat-downs" and "advanced imaging" screening, and the associated changing travel patterns. This research will engage many graduate, undergraduate, and high school students, including those from under-represented groups. The results of this research will be disseminated broadly to local, national and international communities.