I am studying Stochastic Dynamic Programming using Sheldon Ross's book, "Introduction to Stochastic Dynamic Programming." In the book, Ross defines a dynamic programming algorithm to minimize cost for unbounded costs per stage problems, and it's represented as follows:

Let $V_0(i) = 0$, and for $n > 0$, $$V_n(i) = min_a(C(i,a) + Σ_j P_{i,j}(a)V_{n-1}(j)),$$ where $C(i,a) \geq 0$ for every $i$.

The book claims that $V_n(i) \leq V_{n+1}(i)$, where $V_{n}(i)$ represents the minimal expected cost for an n-stage problem starting in $i$. The key observation here is that all costs are nonnegative, implying that $V_n(i)$ must be less than $V_{n+1}(i)$.

I've been trying to prove this inequality using mathematical induction, but I've hit a roadblock in my efforts.

Base Case ($n = 0$): For $n = 0$, we have: $V_0(i) = 0$ (given). Now, we need to prove that $V_0(i) \leq V_1(i)$. $V_1(i) = min_a(C(i,a) + ∑_j P_{i,j}(a) V_0(j))$ Since $V_0(j) = 0$ for all $j$, we can simplify this to: $V_1(i) = min_a(C(i,a))$.

This is a minimum value over a set of non-negative values. Since $C(i,a)$ is non-negative for all $i$ and $a$, the minimum value can only be zero or a positive value. Therefore, $V_1(i)$ is either 0 or a positive value. So, in the base case, $V_0(i) \leq V_1(i)$.

Inductive Hypothesis: Assume that for some arbitrary $n$, $V_n(i) \leq V_{n+1}(i)$.

Inductive Step: We want to show that $V_{n+1}(i) \leq V_{n+2}(i)$. We can use the formula for $V_{n+1}(i)$: $V_{n+1}(i) = min_a(C(i,a) + ∑_j P_{i,j}(a)V_n(j))$

I'm looking for assistance in completing the proof by induction.


1 Answer 1


How about something like this?

Assume that the statement is true for all values of $n \le K$, and that $C_i(a)$, $P_{i,j}(a)$ are positive functions of $a$. Then

\begin{eqnarray*} V_{K+1}(i) & = & \min_a \left\{C_i(a) + \sum_j P_{i,j}(a) V_{K}(j)\right\} \\ & \ge & \min_a \left\{C_i(a) + \sum_j P_{i,j}(a) V_{K-1} (j) \right\} \\ & = & V_K (i) \end{eqnarray*}

The second line follows from the induction hypothesis, and the third from the definition.


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