Contested logistics simulation output analysis with approximate dynamic programming: a proposed methodology
Rapid sensitivity analysis and near-optimal decision-making in contested environments are valuable requirements when providing military logistics support. Port of debarkation denial motivates maneuver from strategic operational locations, further complicating logistics support. Simulations enable rapid concept design, experiment and testing that meet these complicated logistic support demands. However, simulation model analyses are time consuming as output data complexity grows with simulation input. This paper proposes a methodology that leverages the benefits of simulation-based insight and the computational speed of approximate dynamic programming (ADP).Design/methodology/approachThis paper describes a simulated contested logistics environment and demonstrates how output data informs the parameters required for the ADP dialect of reinforcement learning (aka Q-learning). Q-learning output includes a near-optimal policy that prescribes decisions for each state modeled in the simulation. This paper's methods conform to DoD simulation modeling practices complemented with AI-enabled decision-making.FindingsThis study demonstrates simulation output data as a means of state–space reduction to mitigate the curse of dimensionality. Furthermore, massive amounts of simulation output data become unwieldy. This work demonstrates how Q-learning parameters reflect simulation inputs so that simulation model behavior can compare to near-optimal policies.Originality/valueFast computation is attractive for sensitivity analysis while divorcing evaluation from scenario-based limitations. The United States military is eager to embrace emerging AI analytic techniques to inform decision-making but is hesitant to abandon simulation modeling. This paper proposes Q-learning as an aid to overcome cognitive limitations in a way that satisfies the desire to wield AI-enabled decision-making combined with modeling and simulation.