Integrated Offline and Online Decision Making under Uncertainty

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Allegra De Filippo
Michele Lombardi
Michela Milano


This paper considers multi-stage optimization problems under uncertainty that involve distinct offline and online phases. In particular it addresses the issue of integrating these phases to show how the two are often interrelated in real-world applications. Our methods are applicable under two (fairly general) conditions: 1) the uncertainty is exogenous; 2) it is possible to define a greedy heuristic for the online phase that can be modeled as a parametric convex optimization problem. We start with a baseline composed by a two-stage offline approach paired with the online greedy heuristic. We then propose multiple methods to tighten the offline/online integration, leading to significant quality improvements, at the cost of an increased computation effort either in the offline or the online phase. Overall, our methods provide multiple options to balance the solution quality/time trade-off, suiting a variety of practical application scenarios. To test our methods, we ground our approaches on two real cases studies with both offline and online decisions: an energy management problem with uncertain renewable generation and demand, and a vehicle routing problem with uncertain travel times. The application domains feature respectively continuous and discrete decisions. An extensive analysis of the experimental results shows that indeed offline/online integration may lead to substantial benefits.

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