Window of opportunity

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Critical windows in emergency medicine

A window of opportunity (also called a margin of opportunity or critical window) is a period of time during which some action can be taken that will achieve a desired outcome. Once this period is over, or the "window is closed", the specified outcome is no longer possible.[1]


Examples of windows of opportunity include:



The length of a critical window may be well known (as in the case of launch windows) or poorly known (in the case of medical emergencies or climate change). In some cases, there may be multiple windows during which a goal can be achieved.


In situations with very brief or unpredictable windows of opportunity, automation may be employed to take advantage of these windows, as in algorithmic trading.[9] Real-time computing systems can guarantee responses on the order of milliseconds or less.[10]


In some time-critical situations, failure to act may entail a continuously increasing cost over time, or a continuously decreasing probability over time of achieving the desired outcome. This may be represented in real-time computing systems by time-utility functions.

Use as a marketing tactic[edit]

Critical windows for making purchases may be artificially imposed (or even falsely implied) as a marketing tactic to encourage action, in what is known as a "limited time offer".[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sull, Donald N.; Wang, Yong (June 6, 2005). "The Three Windows of Opportunity". Working Knowledge. Harvard Business School. Retrieved 25 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Robson, Ann L. "Critical/Sensitive Periods." Child Development. Ed. Neil J. Salkind. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2002. 101-103. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
  3. ^ American College of Surgeons (2008). Atls, Advanced Trauma Life Support Program for Doctors. Amer College of Surgeons. ISBN 978-1880696316.
  4. ^ "Window of Opportunity". Retrieved 21 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Window of Opportunity". Investopedia. Retrieved 21 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Heiney, Anna (February 23, 2012). Ryba, Jeanne (ed.). "Aiming for an Open Window". NASA Kennedy Space Center. Retrieved 22 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Wheeler, Robin (2009). "Apollo lunar landing launch window: The controlling factors and constraints". Apollo Flight Journal. Retrieved 22 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ IPCC AR5 WGII (2014). "Climate change 2014, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-05-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Lin, Tom C. W. (2013). "The New Investor". UCLA Law Review. Temple University. 60 (678). SSRN 2227498.
  10. ^ Ben-Ari, M., "Principles of Concurrent and Distributed Programming", Prentice Hall, 1990. ISBN 0-13-711821-X. Ch16, Page 164
  11. ^ Morrison, Maureen (July 22, 2014). "How to Create a Successful Limited-Time Offer: A Do's (and One Don't) Guide for Marketers to Short-Lived Promos". AdvertisingAge. Crain Communications. Retrieved 22 April 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)