Irreducibility of joint inventory positions in an assemble-to-order system under (r, nQ) policies

Jiejian FENG, Liming LIU, Yat Wah WAN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


In a typical assemble-to-order system, a customer order may request multiple items, and the order may not be filled if any of the requested items are out of stock. A key customer service measure when unfilled orders are backordered is the order-based backorder level. To evaluate this crucial performance measure, a fundamental question is whether the stationary joint inventory positions follow an independent and uniform distribution. In this context, this is equivalent to the irreducibility of the Markov chain formed by the joint inventory positions. This article presents a necessary and sufficient condition for the irreducibility of such a Markov chain through a set of simultaneous Diophantine equations. This result also leads to sufficient conditions that are more general than those in the published reports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalNaval Research Logistics (NRL)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

This work is partially supported by grant PolyUG-YX82 and RGC grant PolyU6145/04E of Hong Kong, grant NSERC 371939-2009 of Saint Mary’s University, Canada, and grant NSC99-2410-H-259-046 of Taiwan.


  • assemble-to-order
  • diophantine equations
  • irreducibility
  • necessary and sufficient condition
  • order-based backorders
  • unit-skeleton condition


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