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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. F. Veinott, Jr.
MATLAB is a software package available via your Leland account. You can also buy a
student or professional version for your PC or MAC. MATLAB is designed for the ma-
nipulation and visualization of matrices, and analysis of large amounts of data.
To use MATLAB, first log into your Leland account using either
or Not only do they run MATLAB much faster than cardinal, but if
you log on to you may be knocked off of MATLAB. Once you have
logged on to your Leland account and your msande351 directory, type "matlab", e.g.,
bramble2:/msande351> matlab
MATLAB responds with:
< M A T L A B >
Copyright 1984-2007 The MathWorks, Inc.
Version (R2007b)
August 9, 2007
To get started, type one of these: helpwin, helpdesk, or demo.
For product information, visit
The above >> is the MATLAB prompt. A MATLAB command is executed by typing it at this
prompt and then striking the ENTER key. What follows is the MATLAB reply. In the se-
quel the lines with >> are command lines and the rest are MATLAB replies.
Type "quit" from the command line, e.g.,
>> quit
Typing "help general" will give information on general purpose commands useful for
navigating MATLAB. UNIX shell commands may also be executed by putting a ! before
the command. For example, to edit a file "words.txt" using EMACS while running MAT-
LAB type "!emacs words.txt".
MATLAB was originally written as a matrix manipulation program, and therefore tends
to try to deal with everything as a matrix. Although it is possible to input equa-
tions, assign variables, and use a lot of mathematical functions, to make efficient
use of MATLAB, it is necessary to use matrices. To enter a small matrix, type

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 2 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
>> [1 2 3; 4 5 6]
with rows separated by semicolons and MATLAB responds with
ans =
1 2 3
4 5 6
This matrix can also be entered in its usual form with carriage returns replacing
the semicolons.
>> [1 2 3
4 5 6]
ans =
1 2 3
4 5 6
When entering a matrix, elements are separated by a space, rows are separated by a
semicolon and the matrix is enclosed in square brackets.
After typing a MATLAB command, the output of that command is displayed. To execute a
command and not display the output, follow the command with a semicolon.
>> [1 2 3
4 5 6];
When you create a matrix, you can assign it a variable consisting of characters and
numbers--the first a character, e.g., r2D2, x32, Y5, A, etc. To display the value of
a variable, type its name.
>> A = [1 2 3
4 5 6];
>> A
A =
1 2 3
4 5 6
MATLAB stores variables in an initially empty workspace. Once a variable has been
assigned it is stored in the workspace and may be referred to again until you
redefine or "clear" it. For example
>> clear VAR1 VAR2 ....
removes the variables VAR1, VAR2, ... from the workspace. To get a list of variables
in the workspace type "who".
>> who
Your variables are:
Type "whos" for a more detailed description

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 3 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
>> whos
Name Size Bytes Class
A 2x3 48 double array
Grand total is 6 elements using 48 bytes
EQUALLY SPACED ELEMENTS. The colon : operation can be used to produce vectors with
equally spaced elements, e.g., with unit increments as in
>> 3:7
ans =
3 4 5 6 7
or with arbitrary increments, say, in increments of -2, as in
>> 7:-2:3
ans =
7 5 3
CONVOLUTION. If A and B are vectors, conv(A,B) returns their convolution.
>> A = 1:3 ;
>> B = 4:5 ;
>> conv(A,B)
ans =
4 13 22 15
See the section MORE on CONVOLUTIONS near the end of this document for more details.
TRANSPOSE. A' returns the transpose of a matrix A.
SCALAR OPERATIONS. MATLAB supports scalar addition and multiplication of matrices.
For example, if A is a matrix, then A+2 (resp., A*2) returns the matrix formed by
adding (resp., multiplying) each element of A to (resp., by) 2.
MATRIX OPERATIONS. MATLAB supports the usual matrix operations, viz., +, - and *,
the last being ordinary matrix multiplication.
DIVISION AND SOLVING MATRIX EQUATIONS. If A and B are matrices with the same number
of rows, then A \ B returns the solution X of the matrix linear equations AX = B.
Similarly, if A and B are matrices with the same number of columns, then B / A re-
turns the solution Y of the matrix linear equations YA = B. MATLAB uses different
techniques for solving linear equations depending on the shape of A. If A is square
and singular, MATLAB produces an error message even when the system AX = B has a
solution. The workaround for this is to add a dummy row of zeros to A and to B.
MATLAB will solve the resulting system. For example, suppose

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 4 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
>> A = [.6 .4
.4 .6];
>> B = [ 1 1].
The solutions of the equations AX = B' and YA = B are
>> X = A \ B'
X =
>> Y = B / A
Y =
1.0000 1.0000
But MATLAB fails to solve the system AX = B below even though it has a solution.
>> A = [0 0
1 0];
>> B = [0 1]';
>> X = A \ B
Warning: Matrix is singular to working precision.
X =
The workaround is to append a row of zeros to A and B. Then MATLAB solves the equiv-
alent resulting system, but warns that the matrix has rank 1.
>> A = [A
0 0];
>> B = [B
>> X = A \ B
Warning: Rank deficient, rank = 1 tol = 6.6613e-016.
X =
POWERS. Use ^ for powers, e.g., 2^3 = 8, 4^.5 = 2. This works for square matrices
too. For example, if A is a square matrix, A^3 returns the cube A*A*A of A and A^0.5
returns the square root of A, i.e., the matrix whose square is A. If A is also non-
singular, this works for negative integer powers of A too, e.g., A^(-2) returns the
square of the inverse of A. Alternately, inv(A) also returns the inverse of A.
MAX and MIN. If A is a vector, max(A) returns the largest element of A. If A is a
matrix, M = max(A) returns the row vector M containing the maximum element in each
column of A. Also, [M,I] = max(A) returns both M and the row indices I of the maxi-
mum elements. If there are several such indices, the index is the smallest one.

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 5 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
>> A = [1 3 0
0 4 0];
>> [M,I] = max(A)
M =
1 4 0
I =
1 2 1
The function min(A) works analogously after replacing max by min everywhere.
SUM and CUMSUM. If A is a vector, sum(A) returns the sum of the elements of A and
cumsum(A) returns the partial sums of elements of A. If A is a matrix, sum(A)
returns the row vector that is the column sums of A and cumsum(A) returns the matrix
each of whose columns is the column-vector of partial sums of the corresponding
column of A.
>> A = [ 1 2
3 4];
>> sum(A)
ans =
4 6
>> cumsum(A)
ans =
1 2
4 6
PRODUCT. If A is a vector, prod(A) returns the product of the elements of A. If A is
a matrix, prod(A) returns the row vector of products of the elements in each column.
>> prod(A)
ans =
3 8
ARRAY OPERATIONS. An array operation, i.e., an operation that is performed element-
wise, is done by inserting a "." in front of the operation (only for *, ^, / and \),
>> [1 2 3] .^ 3
ans =
1 8 27
>> [1 2 3 ] .* [ 0 -1 2]
ans =
0 -2 6
The matrix A = [ ] is empty.
The function eye(n) returns the identity matrix of order n.

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 6 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
The function zeros(m,n) returns the m x n matrix of zeros.
The function zeros(n) returns the n x n matrix of zeros.
The function ones(m,n) returns the m x n matrix of ones
The function ones(n) returns the n x n matrix of ones.
The function rand(m,n) returns an m x n matrix of uniform random numbers in (0,1).
The function randn(m,n) returns an m x n matrix of standard normal random numbers.
DUPLICATING COLUMNS. Often a column vector will need to be subtracted from each
column of a matrix. Rather than use a loop, use a row vector of ones to create a
matrix with the column vector duplicated in each of its columns. Then subtract this
matrix from the original matrix.
For example, if you want to subtract
>> v = [2
from the matrix
>> M = [1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9];
use the command
>> M - v * ones(1,3)
ans =
-1 0 1
-1 0 1
0 1 2
RESHAPING A MATRIX INTO A COLUMN. You can reshape a matrix into a column with the
operator :. Given the matrix A, A(:) is a column vector with the columns of A
stacked in order on top of one another, e.g.,
>> A = [1 3
2 4];
>> A(:)
ans =
FLIP A MATRIX LEFT AND RIGHT. You can reverse the order of the columns of a matrix A
with the function fliplr(A), e.g.,
>> A = [1 3
2 4];
>> fliplr(A)
ans =
3 1
4 2

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 7 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
MATRIX of MATRICES. Here are some examples of matrices of matrices.
>> A = [1 2 3; 4 5 6; 7 8 9];
>> b = [10 11 12];
>> [A
ans =
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
10 11 12
>> [A b']
ans =
1 2 3 10
4 5 6 11
7 8 9 12
>> [A b'
b 1]
ans =
1 2 3 10
4 5 6 11
7 8 9 12
10 11 12 1
Typing "help" gives a list of all the areas for which there are built-in
functions. One of these areas is matlab/matfun - Matrix functions - numerical
linear algebra. Typing
>> help matlab/matfun
gives a list of the matrix functions that MATLAB supports. Here are some examples.
norm(A) - Matrix or vector norm of A.
rank(A) - Matrix rank of A.
det(A) - Determinant of a square matrix A.
expm(A) - Matrix exponential of a square matrix A
eig(A) - Eigenvalues of a square matrix A
To get information about the function rank, type
>> help rank
RANK Matrix rank.
RANK(A) provides an estimate of the number of linearly
independent rows or columns of a matrix A.
RANK(A,tol) is the number of singular values of A
that are larger than tol.
RANK(A) uses the default tol = max(size(A)) * norm(A) * eps.

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 8 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
In general to find out about the predefined function or command "name", type
>> help name
The FORMAT command allows you to format the output, e.g., display numbers as two-
digit decimals or as fractions. To see what the options are, type
>> help format
MATLAB supports six relational operators:
< Less than
<= Less than or equal to
> Greater than
>= Greater than or equal to
== Equal to
= Not equal to
A relational operator returns one if its argument is true and zero otherwise, and
operates element-by-element on a matrix. Here is an example.
>> A = [2 4
1 5];
>> B = [5 4;
2 3];
>> (A <= B)
ans =
1 1
1 0
matrix A, type "A(i,j)", e.g.,
>> A = [1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9];
>> A(2,3)
ans =
Submatrices can be extracted using vectors, e.g.,
>> u = 1:2 ;
>> v = [1 3];
>> A(u,v)
ans =
1 3
4 6

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 9 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
gives the submatrix defined by the first two rows and the first and third columns.
An entire row or column can be selected by using a colon : instead of an index or a
vector. For example, to find the second column of A, type
>> A(:,2)
ans =
Submatrices can be extracted and modified using relational operators. If you modify
a matrix, the entire modified matrix displays, e.g.,
>> x = [5 0 -4];
>> x(x < 0) = -x(x < 0)
x =
[5 0 4]
MATLAB supports if, for and while statements. The following examples show how to use
these expressions
if x == 0
x = x + 1;
elseif x == 1
x = x - 1;
x = 0;
for i = 1:10
j = 10 * i;
i = 0;
while i < 10
i = i + 1;
MATLAB is designed for matrices. For this reason, it is MUCH FASTER to use matrices
than loops. For example, if A is the 500 x 500 matrix of 2's, the matrix of its
square roots can be found with the program.
>> for i = 1:500
for j = 1:500
A(i,j) = A(i,j) ^ .5;
But the following computes these square roots much faster.
>> A = A .^ .5;

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 10 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
MATLAB supports 2-D and 3-D plots. To illustrate the former, let y be an m x n
matrix. Then plot(y) graphs the n columns of y versus their row indices 1,...,m.
Suppose also that x is an m-vector. Then plot(x,y) graphs the columns of y versus x.
>> x = -5:5;
>> plot(x,x.^2)
plots the square of the elements of x versus x.
Titles, axes, axis labels, etc., of graphs can be altered with built-in functions.
There are two areas, matlab/graph2d and matlab/graph3d, containing built-in
functions for graphs.
It is necessary to "activate" a figure to print it. If you are running MATLAB in a
windows environment, click the figure with your mouse. If you are running MATLAB in
a command-line environment and wish to activate figure 2 say, type
>> figure(2)
You can write MATLAB "programs" using m-files that are text files with the extension
CASE of FILE NAMES. Though the case (upper or lower) of characters in file names is
ignored by the standard PC and MAC operating systems, that is not so when running
under UNIX. Under UNIX, make sure that the extension of m-files is .m, not .M, and
that the capitalization of m-files you call agrees with the actual capitalization of
those file names. Otherwise, you will get an error message.
COMMENTS. Use the symbol "%" to make comments to document the input, output and
calculations in an m-file. Anything after a % is not seen as a command, e.g.,
>> c = 5 % The rest is a comment
c =
EXECUTION AND DIRECTORY. To execute the m-file filename.m, type filename at the
MATLAB prompt. The file filename.m must be in the current directory. To display the
contents of the current directory, use the dir command, e.g.,
>> dir

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 11 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
To change to a different directory, use the cd command, e.g.,
>> cd d:\msande351
There are two types of m-files, SCRIPT and FUNCTION.
SCRIPT. Scripts are the simplest type of m-file. They consist of a script of MATLAB
commands that have no input or output. They operate on the existing data in the
workspace and can create new data on which to operate. Any variables that scripts
create remain in the workspace after the script finishes so you can use them for
further computations. For example, suppose you create the m-file TwoA.m with the
single line
B = 2 * A
When in MATLAB, create any matrix A, e.g.,
>> A = [1 2
3 4];
and run the m-file TwoA.m by typing
>> TwoA
MATLAB responds with
B =
2 4
6 8
If the matrix B was previously defined in the workspace, it is overwritten with the
new matrix.
FUNCTION. Functions are m-files with the following properties:
* the first noncomment line of a function m-file defines the function;
* the function accepts input and returns output;
* the function operate on variables in its own function workspace separate from
the workspace you access from the MATLAB prompt.
Consider the function m-file TwoTimes.m that produces the same result as the m-file
TwoA.m, viz.,
function B = TwoTimes(A) % The syntax of the first line of the file is to type
% "function" followed by output = FunctionName(input). In
% this example A is the input, TwoTimes is the function
% name, and B is the output. The labels A and B of the
% input and output are local to the function workspace.
B = 2 * A; % The remainder of the file calculates the function
% output B from its input A

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 12 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
The function may then be used in MATLAB. Create any matrix C in MATLAB
>> C = [1 2
3 4];
and suppose the matrix B = [1 1] is in the workspace so
>> B
B =
1 1
Call the function as if it were built-in, viz.,
>> D = TwoTimes(C);
>> D
D =
2 4
6 8
The function multiplied C by 2 as expected. Even though B is used inside the func-
tion file, B is not affected in the workspace. Replacing D and/or C above by A would
have produced the same result.
>> B
B =
1 1
Use the DIARY command to create a diary file that contains text input and output
that MATLAB displays on the screen during a session. You can edit the file with a
text editor. Type "help diary" at the command line for details.
The simplest method of importing data into MATLAB is to create an m-file containing
the data using a text editor, a spreadsheet, etc.
This subsection explains how to view and print graphics in MATLAB using the worksta-
tions in Sweet Hall or remotely. The procedure is illustrated with the m-files for
an airline overbooking problem, but the method is general.
The first step is to login to your Leland account on any of the workstations in
Sweet Hall. If you do not have a Leland account, open one by typing open at the
login prompt. Create a directory for the course by typing mkdir msande351. Copy the
files airlin27.m, finhor3r.m and booklim3.m to this directory by using
cp /usr/class/msande351/*.* msande351
Below two methods of viewing and printing files will be given. The first method uses
X Windows and is easiest if you are at Sweet Hall. The second method is needed if
you log in remotely with Telnet. Both methods assume that you are in your msande351
directory at Leland.

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 13 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
1. Start up the X Window system by typing x. (However, most Unix Stations at
Sweet Hall have been configured to start X Windows automatically upon login. The
user will be asked a question such as "Do you want to start X window? (y/n)".) After
a while, a “console” window and a “Local XTerm window” will appear on the screen.
Select the console window by clicking on it with your mouse. Move the arrow to the
Local XTerm window and type matlab.
2. At the MATLAB prompt, type airlin27. You will then be asked for the problem
parameters, and after the execution of the program the data will be ready and the
solution found. The file airlin27.m calls both finhor3r.m and booklim3.m. In sep-
arate graphics windows, you will see two figures. One plots the maximum expected
flight revenue vs. reservations for each number of hours to flight time not exceeding
the one you input. The other plots the optimal booking limits vs. hours to flight
time. To get a printout of either figure, activate the window you want to print by
clicking on it and then clicking print from the file menu. You can also save the
figure as a file. Then
go to the console window and
lpr -Psweetn filename
where n is 1 or 2, depending on which printer is closer to you, and filename is the
Postscript file (like created by the previous command. It may take a
while to print. You can see the jobs in the queue for printing using lpq.
1. Type matlab.
2. At the MATLAB prompt, type airlin27. As above, provide the problem parameters.
You will not see the two figures, but they are in memory. To create a Postscript
file of figure 1 in your msande351 directory, type
print -f1
To create a Postscript file of figure 2, use the same command with -f2 replacing -f1
above and use a different file name with the .ps extension. Then ftp those Postscript
figure files to your local machine. You can then print them to a Postscript printer
by copying them to the printer from the DOS prompt of a PC. If you want to view the
figures or want to use a printer that does not support Postscript, you can either
convert them to pdf format using ps2pdf at Sweet Hall or Adobe Acrobat Distiller on
a PC, or use Ghostview to interpret the Postscript files. In each case, you can then
view/print the figure.
CONVOLUTIONS are useful in many areas including the following.
* inventory control: the expected storage and shortage cost function is the
convolution of the storage and shortage cost function and the probability
distribution of demand.
* probability: the probability distribution of the sum of two independent random
variables is the convolution of their probability distributions.
* Markov chains: the sequence of expected population sizes in a Markov chain with
immigration is the convolution of the immigration stream and the sequence of
powers of the transition matrix.
* product of polynomials: the vector of coefficients of a product of two
polynomials is the convolution of their vectors of coefficients.

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 14 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
The CONVOLUTION C = A o B of two finite sequences A = (A(j)) and B = (B(j)) is
the sequence C = (C(k)) for which C(k) is the sum of A(k-i) * B(i) over i. If
A(a) and B(b)) are respectively the first elements of A and B, then the first
element of C is C(c) = A(a) * B(b) where c = a + b. In the sequel, the term
convolution (or true convolution) is used as just defined.
The MATLAB CONVOLUTION conv(A,B) is slightly different. MATLAB assumes that the
first elements of A and B are A(1) and B(1) respectively. Then it follows
from the above that a = b = 1 and c = a + b = 2, so the first element of C is
C(2). But MATLAB wants all sequences to have first index one. For this reason, the
MATLAB convolution conv(A,B) takes the true convolution A o B and shifts it to
the left one position so its first index is also c - 1 = a + b - 1 = 1.
CAN MATLAB DO TRUE CONVOLUTIONS A o B ? Absolutely. To explain how, it is necessary
to examine the relationship between true convolutions and MATLAB convolutions.
Suppose a true convolution C = A o B is desired. MATLAB in effect shifts the
sequence A (resp., B) to the left a-1 (resp., b-1) positions, takes the true
convolution and shifts the resulting convolution left one more position. The result
of these operations by MATLAB is to shift the true convolution to the left a-1 + b-
1 + 1 = a + b - 1 positions. Thus to obtain the true convolution from the MATLAB
convolution, it suffices to shift the MATLAB convolution back to the right a + b -
1 positions. That's all there is to it. Of course in the above discussion, shifting
k < 0 positions to the right (resp., left) is the same as shifting -k > 0 posi-
tions to the left (resp., right).
EXAMPLE. Suppose g is a storage-and-shortage cost vector with indices the interval
[-15:45] and pr is a demand probability vector with indices [5:15]. Then the true
convolution g o pr of g and pr has indices [-15+5:45+15] = [-10:60] obtained
by adding the intervals of indices for g and pr. The MATLAB convolution
conv(g,pr) instead has indices [1:71]. Thus, all that is required is to shift the
MATLAB convolution back to the right (-15 + 5 - 1) = -11 positions, i.e., to the
left 11 positions.
EXPECTED STORAGE AND SHORTAGE COST G. The expected storage-and-shortage cost vector
G is the restriction of the convolution g o pr to the interval [0:50], i.e., the
values of y for which y - D is in the domain [-15:45] for ALL values of the
demand D. The interval [0:50] is formed from [-15:45] by adding the maximum
demand 15 to the left end point and adding the minimum demand 5 to the right end
Why isn't G equal to the convolution on the entire interval [-10,60]? The answer
is that the convolution does not correctly calculate G outside of the interval
[0:50] because the domain of g is restricted so that not all demands are
accounted for outside that interval. For example, the value (g o pr)(-10) of
g o pr at -10 is
(g o pr)(-10) = g(-10-5) * pr(5)
and is not equal to G(-10) because the former includes the contribution of the
demand equal to 5, but not any other values. To extend the definition of G(y) to
y < 0, it would be necessary to extend the domain of definition of g to include
the values g(y - 5),...,g(y - 15).
Here are two applications. First define the following in MATLAB. In each case the
"M" is appended to a symbol to indicate that it is the MATLAB version thereof.
GM = conv(g,pr)
Y = [0:50]
YM = Y + 11
G = GM(YM)
* PLOT G ON Y. Use the MATLAB function plot(Y,G)

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 15 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
[minimum,M] = min(G)
minimizer = M - 1
The negative unit adjustment to the MATLAB minimizer M of G is to take account
of the fact that MATLAB minimizes over Y + 1 whereas the minimum should be over

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 16 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
STANDARD FORM. The MATLAB formulations of Markov decision chains in MS&E 351 are
specified in terms of the states 1,...,S, the numbers a(s) of actions in each state
s, and the one-period reward r(s,a) and the transition rates (or probabilities)
P(s,a,t) to states t = 1,...,S when action a is chosen in state s. The MATLAB files
represent this data in a standard form. The reason for having a standard form is to
assure that formulations of problems are independent of the algorithms for solving
them. The STANDARD FORM is as follows:
* S is the number of states,
* a is an S-row vector with a(s) the number of actions in state s,
* A is an S-row vector with A(s) the cumulative number of actions in states
* r is an A(S)-column vector of one-period rewards for each of the A(S) state-
action pairs "stacked" on top of one another, and
* P is an A(S) x S matrix of transition rates for each of the A(S) state-action
pairs stacked on top of one another.
The above are input data except for A which is calculated as A = cumsum(a). Notice
that A(S) is the total number of state-action pairs.
"Stacking" of the matrices r and P is done in lexicographic order of the state-
action pairs (s,a), i.e., the row of each matrix corresponding to the state-action
pair (s,a) is above that for the pair (s',a') if either s < s' or s = s' and a < a'.
For example suppose there are three states, two actions in states 1 and 3, one
action in state 2 and that the rewards and transition rates are as follows.
states t
1 2 3
state-actions |rewards | transition rates
(s,a) | r(s,a) | P(s,a,t)
1,1 | 3 | .5 0 .2
1,2 | -2 | 0 .4 .4
2,1 | 0 | 0 0 1
3,1 | -5 | 0 0 0
3,2 | 1 | .2 .2 .3
In particular, taking action 2 in state 1 earns the one-period reward -2 and sends
the system to states 1,2,3 with the respective rates 0,.4,.4 and stops with rate .2.
Similarly taking action 1 in state 3 earns the one-period reward -5 and sends the
system to the stopped state with rate 1.
You can put this problem in the workspace in standard form as follows.
>> S = 3;
>> a = [2 1 2];
>> A = cumsum(a)
A =
2 3 5

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MS&E 351 Stochastic Decision Models 17 Spring 2008
M. O'Sullivan & A. Veinott, Jr. MATLAB OVERVIEW
>> r = [ 3
>> P = [.5 0 .2
0 .4 .4
0 0 1
0 0 0
.2 .2 .3];
Note that MATLAB relabels the state-action pairs (s,a) as the integers 1,2,3,4,5
corresponding to the five rows of the last two matrices. This reindexing often makes
converting problems to standard form in MATLAB a challenge.
CONVERSION OF NATURAL TO STANDARD FORM. When formulating a Markov decision chain in
MATLAB, the most natural form of input data is usually different from the standard
form used by the MS&E 351 algorithms. Then it is necessary to convert the natural
form to standard form. The reshaping operator is often useful for this.
For example, consider a Markov decision chain with three states 1,2,3, two actions 1
and 2 in each state, and reward for taking action a in state s being s * a. One
natural form of this problem might be as follows:
>> SS = [1:3]' % the state space
SS =
>> NA = 1:2 % the actions in each state
NA =
1 2
>> r = SS * NA % the rewards in natural form
r =
1 2
2 4
3 6
so r(s,a) = s * a. But this matrix form of the rewards is not in standard form. To
put the problem in that form, proceed as follows.
>> r = r';
>> r = r(:) % the rewards in standard form
r =
This r vector is now in standard form for use by the Markov-decision-chain