Shrinking-horizon dynamic programming

Joëlle Skaf*, Stephen Boyd, Assaf Zeevi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe a heuristic control policy for a general finite-horizon stochastic control problem, which can be used when the current process disturbance is not conditionally independent of the previous disturbances, given the current state. At each time step, we approximate the distribution of future disturbances (conditioned on what has been observed) by a product distribution with the same marginals. We then carry out dynamic programming (DP), using this modified future disturbance distribution, to find an optimal policy, and in particular, the optimal current action. We then execute only the optimal current action. At the next step, we update the conditional distribution, and repeat the process, this time with a horizon reduced by one step. (This explains the name 'shrinking-horizon dynamic programming'). We explain how the method can be thought of as an extension of model predictive control, and illustrate our method on two variations on a revenue management problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1993-2002
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control
Issue number17
StatePublished - 25 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • dynamic programming
  • model predictive control
  • revenue management


Dive into the research topics of 'Shrinking-horizon dynamic programming'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this