Robust optimization with nonnegative decision variables: A DEA approach

Mehdi Toloo*, Emmanuel Kwasi Mensah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Robust optimization has become the state-of-the-art approach for solving linear optimization problems with uncertain data. Though relatively young, the robust approach has proven to be essential in many real-world applications. Under this approach, robust counterparts to prescribed uncertainty sets are constructed for general solutions to corresponding uncertain linear programming problems. It is remarkable that in most practical problems, the variables represent physical quantities and must be nonnegative. In this paper, we propose alternative robust counterparts with nonnegative decision variables – a reduced robust approach which attempts to minimize model complexity. The new framework is extended to the robust Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) with the aim of reducing the computational burden. In the DEA methodology, first we deal with the equality in the normalization constraint and then a robust DEA based on the reduced robust counterpart is proposed. The proposed model is examined with numerical data from 250 European banks operating across the globe. The results indicate that the proposed approach (i) reduces almost 50% of the computational burden required to solve DEA problems with nonnegative decision variables; (ii) retains only essential (non-redundant) constraints and decision variables without alerting the optimal value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-325
Number of pages13
JournalComputers and Industrial Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Complexity
  • Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA)
  • Nonnegative variables
  • Robust DEA
  • Robust optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Engineering

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