Optimize probability parameter in an optimal control problem

We have a game with infinite but countable rounds. We have one machine, that may either break down, or continue operating. For each round the machine operates, it gives cost $$-1$$ (so profit of $$1$$). However, it may break down with probability $$0.1$$ at each round. Our control policy is:

Whenever the machine breaks down pay $$c\cdot p^2$$ where $$c > 0$$ is a cost parameter, while $$p$$ is a variable. The selection of $$0 \leq p \leq 1$$ gives the probability that repairing the machine will be successful and the machine will operate next round.

So there are two states for the machine: operating, out-of-order (states $$O$$ and $$D$$, respectively). My goal is to find out $$p$$ to minimize my $$\alpha$$-discounted infinite time horizon cost (we can assume initial state is $$O$$).

Attempt:

Whenever we are in state $$O$$, we pay $$-1$$ cost and go to the $$\alpha$$-discounted next stage. However, with probability $$0.1$$ this stage is break-down state, and with $$0.9$$ probability this is the operating state.

Whenever we are in state $$D$$, we pay $$c\cdot p^2$$ and go to the $$\alpha$$-discounted next stage. This stage will be in state $$O$$ with probability $$p$$ and will be $$D$$ with probability $$1-p$$.

So the Bellman equations are thus: \begin{align} & V(O) = -1 + \alpha \left[ 0.1 V(D) + 0.9 V(O) \right] \\ & V(D) = c\cdot p^2 + \alpha \left[ (p )V(O) + (1-p) V(D)\right] \end{align} What I do is I re-write the second equation as $$V(D) = \text{a function of } V(O)$$ and replace this function in the first equation whenever I see $$V(D)$$. Then, the final expression of $$V(O)$$ is just a function of $$p$$: \begin{align} V(O) = \frac{-1 + \alpha - \alpha p + 0.1\alpha cp^2}{(1 - 1.9\alpha + 0.9\alpha^2) + \alpha p - \alpha^2 p} \end{align} I think I should just minimize the above function with respect to $$p$$. My issues here are:

1. The second derivative $$\geq 0$$ is required for convexity (for the usage of FOCs), and the second derivative is massive. I think I also need to constrain $$p \in [0,1]$$ so the KKT system is too complicated.
2. I used a reformulation technique to obtain a convex minimization problem with linear constraint as in here, again it is too complicated and I am afraid if there is some easier way to find the optimal $$p$$.

1. Note that $$V(O)$$ is simply of the form $$\sf Q_1/L_1$$ where $$\sf Q_1$$ is a quadratic and $$\sf L_1$$ is a linear function of $$p$$. This can be written as $${\sf{L_2}}+c/\sf{L_1}$$ where $$\sf L_2$$ is also linear in $$p$$ and $$c$$ is a constant. Letting $${\sf L_1}:=mp+n$$, the second derivative becomes $$V''(O)=c[(mp+n)^{-1}]''=-cm[(mp+n)^{-2}]'=\frac{2cm^2}{(mp+n)^3}$$ which is $$\ge0$$ if $$c(mp+n)\ge0$$. Matching the values of $$c,m,n$$ is straightforward.
Experiment here. It seems $$V''(O)\ge0$$ whenever $$\alpha\ge10/9$$ for all $$p\in[0,1]$$.
• Thanks for that. How can I come with $L_2$? Is there an easy way to apply this split? Mar 25 '20 at 20:24
• Then I take it that $x$ would be a scalar, in which case you will need to ensure that $-\alpha (0.1) c\cdot p^2 + 1 - \alpha +\alpha p$ is a perfect square of a linear function... Mar 25 '20 at 20:36