Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


An ordered collection of persons or things in which one is serviced after another. For example, persons may form a queue to buy tickets to the cinema. Likewise, an employee may form a list of tasks to be done each day and perform them each in turn. The word queue is most common in Britain and the Commonwealth; the equivalent in American English is waiting line or simply line.


the build-up of customers who are delayed while waiting for service. Queuing can occur in a retail outlet where shoppers queue at supermarket checkouts or cars queue on petrol station forecourts. Similar queuing problems occur in factories where components queue to be processed on machines.

Variability in the demand for service and the variable time to complete service makes it difficult to judge the level of service to provide for customers. Where numerous service channels are provided, customers will experience few delays even when many customers arrive simultaneously for service. On the other hand, providing numerous service channels involves large labour costs, as in the case of supermarket checkout staff or bank clerks, or large investment in physical facilities, such as tanker berths or airport runways.

Queuing models employing statistical techniques can be used to analyse queues and to balance the cost of resources used to provide service against the cost of the time lost by customers while waiting for service.

These models consider the number of potential customers; the likely rate at which they arrive; whether they arrive singly or in batches; the number of parallel queues; maximum queue length; order of service (first come, first served or prioritized); number of servers; likely service time; and whether customers are served singly or in batches. For complex queues, SIMULATION techniques may be employed to decide the level of service to provide and how to organize the service facilities. See BALK, MULTIPLE CHANNEL-SINGLE PHASE.

References in periodicals archive ?
People in queue: 0 Time queue & pay: 30secs All tills open?
The derived models are used to investigate the effect of the number of mesh routers, average arrival rate, and load in the system on the queuing delay and average queue length of VoIP packets in a WMN.
Nevertheless, we may be able to improve our understanding of afloat email systems and ship connectivity with consolidated queue information and throughput data from the NOC laboratory at SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic.
This may bring a wry smile to the face of Brits who are used to enduring much longer queues without any of us moving from one place to another, but in legislative terms we have had a tendency to emulate the US way of things over the past 20 years.
When in a queue, a customer could see an update of her queue status and knows when to return to be served by a simple refresh tap.
Threshold: The values of the minimum and maximum thresholds are assigned depending on the desirable actual average of the queue size.
At the O2 phone shop in Coventry city centre there were long queues before the doors opened at 8am.
The survey, organised by the European branch of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), saw researchers assess 2,000 different queues.
This motivated the active queue management policies designers to consider monitoring and control of gateway queue sizes as the major objective of these algorithms.
My other gastronomic trip to the capital, the 2007 Real Ale Festival, had a two-hour queue to get in, too.
This wait will be greater the less information available on the probability that being in a given position in the queue will result in acquiring the good.
MOBILE phone fans queued for hours to get their hands on the brand new iPhone, but what would you queue for?