Queues in Service Systems: Some Unusual Applications

  • Luna An
  • Mallika Machra
  • Abigail M. Moser
  • Sanja Simonovikj
  • Richard C. LarsonEmail author
Part of the Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy book series (SSRI)


Queues can exist in unusual places, often very different from the traditional standing line of customers. Here, we visit some of these less obvious queues, some fun and some quite serious, with the intent to open our eyes to the fact that at any given time, each of us is waiting in multiple queues. Our tour of queues includes: (1) the Hypercube Queue model for emergency services such as ambulance and police services; (2) queues of PhDs waiting as postdoctoral fellows, hoping to obtain a tenure-track faculty position; (3) a university’s faculty as a large queue, where “service” is leaving the academic ranks; (4) queues of moving cars trying to find inexpensive on-street parking in cities; (5) queues of homeowners waiting for the restoration of electrical service following a Nor’easter; (6) queues of individuals awaiting human organ transplants; (7) human behavior in queues, often with culturally dependent rules for behavior; and (8) smart phone apps for managing or avoiding queues.


Queues Waiting Emergency response Post-docs Queue psychology Queue culture 



The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Grant 2U01GM094141-05) supported some of the work described herein. The grant, “A Model-Based Examination of Behavioral and Social Science Workforce: Improving Health Outcomes,” was awarded to the Ohio State University, MIT, and Virginia Tech. The discussion and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institutes of Health, the Ohio State University, MIT, or Virginia Tech. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) of MIT supported the efforts of the first four coauthors; for that support, we are most grateful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luna An
    • 1
  • Mallika Machra
    • 1
  • Abigail M. Moser
    • 2
  • Sanja Simonovikj
    • 2
  • Richard C. Larson
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Wellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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