Explore or exploit? A generic model and an exactly solvable case
Finding a good compromise between the exploitation of known resources and the exploration of unknown, but potentially more profitable choices, is a general problem, which arises in many different scientific disciplines.
We propose a stylised model for these exploration-exploitation situations, including population or economic growth, portfolio optimisation, evolutionary dynamics, or the problem of optimal pinning of vortices or dislocations in disordered materials. We find the exact growth rate of this model for tree-like geometries and prove the existence of an optimal migration rate in this case.
Numerical simulations in the one-dimensional case confirm the generic existence of an optimum.