Greedy Policies and Penalized Information-Relaxation Bounds for EMS: Allocation and Performance Assessment

August 4, 2023 11:00 AM Singapore


In this talk, first, I will present an efficient data-driven computational solution and bounding approach for emergency medical service (EMS) fleet allocation and redeployment, i.e., (re-)positioning ambulances to bases to maximize the system’s service level. Using a discrete-event simulator at the core, we first model ambulance allocation as an approximately-submodular-maximization problem, and devise a simple and efficient greedy algorithm that is applicable for both static allocation and dynamic redeployment. Second, to better evaluate the efficiency of dynamic redeployment, we develop novel penalized information-relaxation bounds that avoid incurring the curse of dimensionality common to such approaches. Our bounding methods solve a hitherto open problem and help tighten regret bounds for large classes of online resource allocation problems beyond the EMS setting.

About the Speaker

Lavanya Marla is an Associate Professor in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests are in robust and dynamic decision-making for large-scale networks subject to operating stochasticity. Her research builds advanced resource allocation tools for these systems by bridging aspects of data-driven optimization, statistics, simulation and artificial intelligence. Application areas of interest include aviation planning, operations and pricing; logistics, emergency medical services, and shared transportation systems. Prior to the University of Illinois, she was a Systems Scientist with the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. She earned her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bachelors degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Her work has been recognized through multiple awards including the prestigious Center for Advanced Study award from the University of Illinois, IISE Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems award, a semi-finalist at the INFORMS Innovative Applications in Analytics Award, Honorable mention for the Anna Valicek award from AGIFORS, KDD Startup Research award, and multiple best paper awards. Her research is funded by grants from the US National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the US-India Educational Foundation, and multiple industry grants.

For more information about the ESD Seminar, please email

Lavanya Marla (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) - Greedy Policies and Penalized Information-Relaxation Bounds for EMS: Allocation and Performance Assessment