Computationally Efficient Approximations for Distributionally Robust Optimization

Distributionally robust optimization (DRO) is a modeling framework in decision making under uncertainty where the probability distribution of a random parameter is unknown while its partial information (e.g., statistical properties) is available. In this framework, the unknown probability distribution is assumed to lie in an ambiguity set consisting of all distributions that are compatible with the available partial information. Although DRO bridges the gap between stochastic programming and robust optimization, one of its limitations is that its models for large-scale problems can be significantly difficult to solve, especially when the uncertainty is of high dimension. In this paper, we propose computationally efficient inner and outer approximations for DRO problems with a moment-based ambiguity set and a combined ambiguity set including Wasserstein distance and moment information. In these approximations, we split a random vector into smaller pieces, leading to smaller matrix constraints. In addition, we use principal component analysis to shrink uncertainty space dimensionality. We quantify the quality of the developed approximations by deriving theoretical bounds on their optimality gap. We display the practical applicability of the proposed approximations in a production-transportation problem and a multi-product newsvendor problem. The results demonstrate that these approximations dramatically reduce the computational time while maintaining high solution quality.



View Computationally Efficient Approximations for Distributionally Robust Optimization