Least Squares Approximate Policy Iteration for Learning Bid Prices in Choice-Based Revenue Management
Koch S (2017) Least squares approximate policy iteration for learning bid prices in choice-based revenue management. Computers & Operations Research 77(2017): 240–253.
Posted: 30 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 29, 2017
We consider the revenue management problem of capacity control under customer choice behavior. An exact solution of the underlying stochastic dynamic program is difficult because of the multi-dimensional state space and, thus, approximate dynamic programming (ADP) techniques are widely used. The key idea of ADP is to encode the multi-dimensional state space by a small number of basis functions, often leading to a parametric approximation of the dynamic program’s value function. In general, two classes of ADP techniques for learning value function approximations exist: mathematical programming and simulation. So far, the literature on capacity control largely focuses on the first class.
In this paper, we develop a least squares approximate policy iteration (API) approach which belongs to the second class. Thereby, we suggest value function approximations that are linear in the parameters, and we estimate the parameters via linear least squares regression. Exploiting both exact and heuristic knowledge from the value function, we enforce structural constraints on the parameters to facilitate learning a good policy. We perform an extensive simulation study to investigate the performance of our approach. The results show that it is able to obtain competitive revenues com-pared to and often outperforms state-of-the-art capacity control methods in reasonable computational time. Depending on the scarcity of capacity and the point in time, reve-nue improvements of around 1% or more can be observed. Furthermore, the proposed approach contributes to simulation-based ADP, bringing forth research on numerically estimating piecewise linear value function approximations and their application in revenue management environments.
Keywords: Revenue Management, Capacity Control, Approximate Dynamic Programming, Ap-proximate Policy Iteration
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