On the Optimal Control of Partially Observed Inventory Systems

Abstract:   This Note introduces recent developments in the analysis of inventory systems with partial observations.  The states of these systems are typically conditional distributions, which evolve in infinite dimensional spaces over time.  Our analysis involves introducing unnormalized probabilities to transform nonlinear state transition equations to linear ones.  With the linear equations, the existence of the optimal feedback policies are proved for two models where demand and inventory are partially observed. In a third model where the current inventory is not observed but a past inventory level is fully observed, a sufficient statistic is provided to serve as a state.  The last model serves as an example where a partially observed model has a finite dimensional state.  In that model, we also establish the optimality of the basestock and (s,S) policies, hence generalizing the corresponding classical models with full information.