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In economics, a model of the optimal decision-making of an agent facing a choice of options with random pay-offs when delay is costly. In this setting an agent is confronted with a trade-off between the cost of delaying the choice and a potential opportunity of a better option arriving in the future. The most common applications of search theory include job search in labour economics and product search in consumer theory. See also reservation wage.

Reference: Oxford Press Dictonary of Economics, 5th edt.