Distributionally Robust Disaster Relief Planning under the Wasserstein Set

We study a two-stage natural disaster management problem modeled as a stochastic program, where the first stage consists of a facility location problem, deciding where to open facilities and pre-allocate resources such as medical and food kits, and the second stage is a fixed-charge transportation problem, routing resources to affected areas after observing a disaster. Thus, our model has binary variables present in both stages. Due to the lack of data, classical stochastic programming approaches may be ill-suited, and we propose a two-stage distributionally robust formulation with a Wasserstein ambiguity set, where we consider distributions consistent with historical data and a tunable parameter to control the level of risk aversion. We develop a column-and-constraint generation (CCG) algorithm to solve an extensive reformulation, where scenarios are iteratively generated. We handle the presence of binary variables in the second stage by leveraging the structure of our support set and second-stage problem, and provide conditions under which the optimal value of the latter is concave with respect to the intensity of the disaster, leading to an efficient scenario generation procedure. We also show that our results extend to the case where the second stage is a fixed-charge network flow problem. We perform extensive computational experiments demonstrating the computational advantage of our method over classical CCG implementations on synthetic instances, and illustrate the benefits of our approach on a popular case study from the literature of hurricane threats on the Gulf of Mexico states in the United States.


School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. April 2022.



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