Learning an Inventory Control Policy with General Inventory Arrival Dynamics

Arrival sequences under different models of inventory arrivals


In this paper we address the problem of learning and backtesting inventory control policies in the presence of general arrival dynamics – which we term as a quantity-over-time arrivals model (QOT). We also allow for order quantities to be modified as a post-processing step to meet vendor constraints such as order minimum and batch size constraints – a common practice in real supply chains. To the best of our knowledge this is the first work to handle either arbitrary arrival dynamics or an arbitrary downstream post-processing of order quantities. Building upon recent work (Madeka et al., 2022) we similarly formulate the periodic review inventory control problem as an exogenous decision process, where most of the state is outside the control of the agent. Madeka et al. (2022) show how to construct a simulator that replays historic data to solve this class of problem. In our case, we incorporate a deep generative model for the arrivals process as part of the history replay. By formulating the problem as an exogenous decision process, we can apply results from Madeka et al. (2022) to obtain a reduction to supervised learning. Finally, we show via simulation studies that this approach yields statistically significant improvements in profitability over production baselines. Using data from an ongoing real-world A/B test, we show that Gen-QOT generalizes well to off-policy data.