Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Science (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



The need for inventory control models for practical real-world applications is growing with the global expansion of supply chains. The widely used traditional optimization procedures usually require an explicit mathematical model formulated based on some assumptions. The validity of such models and approaches for real world applications depend greatly upon whether the assumptions made match closely with the reality. The use of meta-heuristics, as opposed to a traditional method, does not require such assumptions and has allowed more realistic modeling of the inventory control system and its solution. In this dissertation, a metaheuristic-based simulation optimization framework is developed for supply chain inventory management under uncertainty. In the proposed framework, any effective metaheuristic can be employed to serve as the optimizer to intelligently search the solution space, using an appropriate simulation inventory model as the evaluation module. To be realistic and practical, the proposed framework supports inventory decision-making under supply-side and demand-side uncertainty in a supply chain. The supply-side uncertainty specifically considered includes quality imperfection. As far as demand-side uncertainty is concerned, the new framework does not make any assumption on demand distribution and can process any demand time series. This salient feature enables users to have the flexibility to evaluate data of practical relevance. In addition, other realistic factors, such as capacity constraints, limited shelf life of products and type-compatible substitutions are also considered and studied by the new framework. The proposed framework has been applied to single-vendor multi-buyer supply chains with the single vendor facing the direct impact of quality deviation and capacity constraint from its supplier and the buyers facing demand uncertainty. In addition, it has been extended to the supply chain inventory management of highly perishable products. Blood products with limited shelf life and ABO compatibility have been examined in detail. It is expected that the proposed framework can be easily adapted to different supply chain systems, including healthcare organizations. Computational results have shown that the proposed framework can effectively assess the impacts of different realistic factors on the performance of a supply chain from different angles, and to determine the optimal inventory policies accordingly.



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Committee Chair

Liao, T. Warren