We develop the first approximation algorithm with worst-case performance guarantee for capacitated stochastic periodic-review inventory systems with setup costs. The structure of the optimal control policy for such systems is extremely complicated, and indeed, only some partial characterization is available. Thus, finding provably near-optimal control policies has been an open challenge. In this article, we construct computationally efficient approximate optimal policies for these systems whose demands can be nonstationary and/or correlated over time, and show that these policies have a worst-case performance guarantee of 4. We demonstrate through extensive numerical studies that the policies empirically perform well, and they are significantly better than the theoretical worst-case guarantees. We also extend the analyses and results to the case with batch ordering constraints, where the order size has to be an integer multiple of a base load. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2014

Many conventional models that characterize the reliability of multicomponent systems are developed on the premise that for a given system, the failures of its components are independent. Although this facilitates mathematical tractability, it may constitute a significant departure from what really takes place. In many real-world applications, system components exhibit various degrees of interdependencies, which present significant challenges in predicting degradation performance and the remaining lifetimes of the individual components as well as the system at large. We focus on modeling the performance of interdependent components of networked systems that exhibit interactive degradation processes. Specifically, we focus on how the performance level of one component affects the degradation rates of other dependent components. This is achieved by using stochastic models to characterize how degradation-based sensor signals associated with the components evolve over time. We consider “Continuous-Type” component interactions that occur continuously over time. This type of degradation interaction exists in many applications, in which interdependencies occur on a continuum. We use a system of stochastic differential equations to capture such “Continuous-Type” interaction. In addition, we utilize a Bayesian approach to update the proposed model using real-time sensor signals observed in the field and provide more accurate estimation of component residual lifetimes. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2014

We study a single batching machine scheduling problem with transportation and deterioration considerations arising from steel production. A set of jobs are transported, one at a time, by a vehicle from a holding area to the single batching machine. The machine can process several jobs simultaneously as a batch. The processing time of a job will increase if the duration from the time leaving the holding area to the start of its processing exceeds a given threshold. The time needed to process a batch is the longest of the job processing times in the batch. The problem is to determine the job sequence for transportation and the job batching for processing so as to minimize the makespan and the number of batches. We study four variations (P1, P2, P3, P4) of the problem with different treatments of the two criteria. We prove that all the four variations are strongly NP-hard and further develop polynomial time algorithms for their special cases. For each of the first three variations, we propose a heuristic algorithm and analyze its worst-case performance. For P4, which is to find the Pareto frontier, we provide a heuristic algorithm and an exact algorithm based on branch and bound. Computational experiments show that all the heuristic algorithms perform well on randomly generated problem instances, and the exact algorithm for P4 can obtain Pareto optimal schedules for small-scale instances. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics, 2014

We prove a Chernoff-type upper variance bound for the multinomial and the negative multinomial distribution. An application is also given.Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 179–183, 2014

For most firms, especially the small- and medium-sized ones, the operational decisions are affected by their internal capital and ability to obtain external capital. However, the majority of the literature on dynamic inventory control ignores the firm's financial status and financing issues. An important question that arises is: what are the optimal inventory and financing policies for firms with limited internal capital and limited access to external capital? In this article, we study a dynamic inventory control problem where a capital-constrained firm periodically purchases a product from a supplier and sells it to a market with random demands. In each period, the firm can use its own capital and/or borrow a short-term loan to purchase the product, with the interest rate being nondecreasing in the loan size. The objective is to maximize the firm's expected terminal wealth at the end of the planning horizon. We show that the optimal inventory policy in each period is an equity-level-dependent base-stock policy, where the equity level is the sum of the firm's capital level and the value of its on-hand inventory evaluated at the purchasing cost; and the structure of the optimal policy can be characterized by four intervals of the equity level. Our results shed light on the dynamic inventory control for firms with limited capital and short-term financing capabilities.Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 184–201, 2014

We provide an expression for the Shannon entropy of mixed *r*-out-of- *n* systems when the lifetimes of the components are independent and identically distributed. The expression gives the system's entropy in terms of the system signature, the distribution and density functions of the lifetime model, and the information measures of the beta distribution. Bounds for the system's entropy are obtained by direct applications of the concavity of the entropy and the information inequality.Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 202–206, 2014

We consider a three-layer supply chain with a manufacturer, a reseller, and a sales agent. The demand is stochastically determined by the random market condition and the sales agent's private effort level. Although the manufacturer is uninformed about the market condition, the reseller and the sales agent conduct demand forecasting and generate private demand signals. Under this framework with two levels of adverse selection intertwined with moral hazard, we study the impact of the reseller's and the sales agent's forecasting accuracy on the profitability of each member. We show that the manufacturer's profitability is convex on the reseller's forecasting accuracy. From the manufacturer's perspective, typically improving the reseller's accuracy is detrimental when the accuracy is low but is beneficial when it is high. We identify the concrete interrelation among the manufacturer-optimal reseller's accuracy, the volatility of the market condition, and the sales agent's accuracy. Finally, the manufacturer's interest may be aligned with the reseller's when only the reseller can choose her accuracy; this alignment is never possible when both downstream players have the discretion to choose their accuracy. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 207–222, 2014

Conventional control charts are often designed to optimize out-of-control average run length (ARL), while constraining in-control ARL to a desired value. The widely employed grid search approach in statistical process control (SPC) is time-consuming with unsatisfactory accuracy. Although the simulation-based ARL gradient estimators proposed by Fu and Hu [Manag Sci 45 (1999), 395–413] can alleviate this issue, it still requires a large number of simulation runs to significantly reduce the variance of gradient estimators. This article proposes a novel ARL gradient estimation approach based on integral equation for efficient analysis and design of control charts. Although this article compares with the results of Fu and Hu [Manag Sci 45 (1999), 395–413] based on the exponentially weighted moving average (EWMA) control chart, the proposed approach has wide applicability as it can generally fit into any control chart with Markovian property under any distributions. It is shown that the proposed method is able to provide a fast, accurate, and easy-to-implement algorithm for the design and analysis of EWMA charts, as compared to the simulation-based gradient estimation method. Moreover, the proposed gradient estimation method facilitates the computation of high-order derivatives that are valuable in sensitivity analysis. The code is written in Matlab, which is available on request. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 223–237, 2014

In this article, we study aging properties of parallel and series systems with a random number of components. We show that the decreasing likelihood ratio property is closed under the formation of random minima. We also show, by counterexamples, that other aging properties are not closed under the formation of random minima or maxima. Some mistakes in the literature are corrected. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 238–243, 2014

Recent supply-chain models that study competition among capacity-constrained producers omit the possibility of producers strategically setting wholesale prices to create uncertainty with regards to (i.e., to obfuscate) their production capacities. To shed some light on this possibility, we study strategic obfuscation in a supply-chain model comprised of two competing producers and a retailer, where one of the producers faces a privately-known capacity constraint. We show that capacity obfuscation can strictly increase the obfuscating producer's profit, therefore, presenting a clear incentive for such practices. Moreover, we identify conditions under which both producers' profits increase. In effect, obfuscation enables producers to tacitly collude and charge higher wholesale prices by moderating competition between producers. The retailer, in contrast, suffers a loss in profit, raises retail prices, while overall channel profits decrease. We show that the extent of capacity obfuscation is limited by its cost and by a strategic retailer's incentive to facilitate a deterrence. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 61: 244–267, 2014