Searching for an Agent Who May OR May Not Want to be Found

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. 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 τ(c), 0 ≤ c ≤ 1, linking a zero-sum search game (with c = 0) to a rendezvous problem (with c = 1). 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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