We consider the n-period economic lot sizing problem, where the cost coefficients are not restricted in sign. In their seminal paper, H. M. Wagner and T. M. Whitin proposed an O(n[sup 2]) algorithm for the special case of this problem, where the marginal production costs are equal in all periods and the unit holding costs are nonnegative. It is well known that their approach can also be used to solve the general problem, without affecting the complexity of the algorithm. In this paper, we present an algorithm to solve the economic lot sizing problem in O(n log n) time, and we show how the Wagner-Whitin case can even be solved in linear time. Our algorithm can easily be explained by a geometrical interpretation and the time bounds are obtained without the use of any complicated data structure. Furthermore, we show how Wagner and Whitin's and our algorithm are related to algorithms that solve the dual of the simple plant location formulation of the economic lot sizing problem.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Operations Research
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Wagelmans, A.P.M, van Hoesel, S, & Kolen, A.W.J. (1992). Economic Lot-Sizing: an O(n log n) Algorithm That Runs in Linear Time in the Wagner-Whitin Case. Operations Research, 145–156. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/2310