This paper considers the optimization of the base-stock level for the classical periodic review lost-sales inventory system. The optimal policy for this system is not fully understood and computationally expensive to obtain. Base-stock policies for this system are asymptotically optimal as lost-sales costs approach infinity, easy to implement and prevalent in practice. Unfortunately, the state space needed to evaluate a base-stock policy exactly grows exponentially in both the lead time and the base-stock level. We show that the dynamics of this system can be aggregated into a one-dimensional state space description that grows linearly in the base-stock level only by taking a non-traditional view of the dynamics. We provide asymptotics for the transition probabilities within this single dimensional state space and show that these asymptotics have good convergence properties that are independent of the lead time under mild conditions on the demand distribution. Furthermore, we show that these asymptotics satisfy a certain ow conservation property. These results lead to a new and computationally efficient heuristic to set base-stock levels in lost-sales systems. In a numerical study we demonstrate that this approach performs better than existing heuristics with an average gap with the best base-stock policy of 0.01% across a large test-bed.

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Arts, J., Levi, R., van Houtum, G.-J., & Zwart, B. (2015). Base-stock policies for lost-sales models: Aggregation and asymptotics.