# Two-stage Linear Decision Rules for Multi-stage Stochastic Programming

Multi-stage stochastic linear programs (MSLPs) are notoriously hard to solve in general. Linear decision rules (LDRs) yield an approximation of an MSLP by restricting the decisions at each stage to be an affine function of the observed uncertain parameters. Finding an optimal LDR is a static optimization problem that provides an upper bound on the optimal value of the MSLP, and, under certain assumptions, can be formulated as an explicit linear program. Similarly, as proposed by Kuhn, Wiesemann, and Georghiou ("Primal and dual linear decision rules in stochastic and robust optimization", Math. Program., 130, 177--209, 2011) a lower bound for an MSLP can be obtained by restricting decisions in the dual of the MSLP to follow an LDR. We propose a new approximation approach for MSLPs, two-stage LDRs. The idea is to require only the state variables in an MSLP to follow an LDR, which is sufficient to obtain an approximation of an MSLP that is a two-stage stochastic linear program (2SLP). We similarly propose to apply LDR only to a subset of the variables in the dual of the MSLP, which yields a 2SLP approximation of the dual that provides a lower bound on the optimal value of the MSLP. Although solving the corresponding 2SLP approximations exactly is intractable in general, we investigate how approximate solution approaches that have been developed for solving 2SLP can be applied to solve these approximation problems, and derive statistical upper and lower bounds on the optimal value of the MSLP. In addition to potentially yielding better policies and bounds, this approach requires many fewer assumptions than are required to obtain an explicit reformulation when using the standard static LDR approach. A computational study on two example problems demonstrates that using a two stage LDR can yield significantly better primal policies and modestly better dual policies than using policies based on a static LDR.

arXiv:1701.04102