Financial scenario generation for stochastic multi-stage decision processes as facility location problems

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The quality of multi-stage stochastic optimization models as they appear in asset liability management, energy planning, transportation, supply chain management, and other applications depends heavily on the quality of the underlying scenario model, describing the uncertain processes influencing the profit/cost function, such as asset prices and liabilities, the energy demand process, demand for transportation, and the like. A common approach to generate scenarios is based on estimating an unknown distribution and matching its moments with moments of a discrete scenario model. This paper demonstrates that the problem of finding valuable scenario approximations can be viewed as the problem of optimally approximating a given distribution with some distance function. We show that for Lipschitz continuous cost/profit functions it is best to employ the Wasserstein distance. The resulting optimization problem can be viewed as a multi-dimensional facility location problem, for which at least good heuristic algorithms exist. For multi-stage problems, a scenario tree is constructed as a nested facility location problem. Numerical convergence results for financial mean-risk portfolio selection conclude the paper.

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