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Managing with Incomplete Inventory Information

by Meng Li, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | 2:00pm-3:30pm | Room 337, HSBC Business School


A critical assumption in the vast literature has been that the current level of inventory is known to the decision maker. Some of the most celebrated results such as the optimality of base-stock policies have been obtained under this assumption. Yet it is often the case in practice that the decision makers have incomplete or partial information about their inventory levels. The reasons for this are many: Inventory records or cash register information differ from actual inventory because of a variety of factors including transaction errors, theft, spoilage, misplacement, unobserved lost demands, and information delays. As a result, what are usually observed are some events or signals, related to the inventory level. These relationships can provide the distribution of current inventory levels. Therefore, the system state in the inventory control problems is not the current inventory level, but rather its distribution given the observed signals. Thus, the analysis for finding optimal production or ordering policies takes place generally in the space of probability distributions. The purpose of this research is to obtain inventory management policies with incomplete information.
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