Centre for Discrete and Applicable Mathematics

 CDAM Research Report, LSE-CDAM-2000-14

July 2000

Searching For An Agent Who May Or May Not Want To Be Found

Steve Alpern and Shmuel Gal


There is an extensive theory regarding optimal continuous path search for a mobile or immobile `target'. The traditional theory assume 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. This paper introduces a new type of search problem by assuming that 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 linking a zero-sum search game to a rendezvous problem. These models thus provide a theoretical bridge between two previously distinct parts of Search Theory, namely Search Games and Rendezvous Search.

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