Linear Programming - Duality - Example

Example

Revisit the above example of the farmer who may grow wheat and barley with the set provision of some L land, F fertilizer and P insecticide. Assume now that unit prices for each of these means of production (inputs) are set by a planning board. The planning board's job is to minimize the total cost of procuring the set amounts of inputs while providing the farmer with a floor on the unit price of each of his crops (outputs), S1 for wheat and S2 for barley. This corresponds to the following linear programming problem:

Minimize: LyL + FyF + PyP (minimize the total cost of the means of production as the "objective function")
Subject to: yL + F1yF + P1yPS1 (the farmer must receive no less than S1 for his wheat)
yL + F2 yF + P2yPS2 (the farmer must receive no less than S2 for his barley)
yL ≥ 0, yF ≥ 0, yP ≥ 0 (prices cannot be negative).

Which in matrix form becomes:

Minimize:
Subject to:

The primal problem deals with physical quantities. With all inputs available in limited quantities, and assuming the unit prices of all outputs is known, what quantities of outputs to produce so as to maximize total revenue? The dual problem deals with economic values. With floor guarantees on all output unit prices, and assuming the available quantity of all inputs is known, what input unit pricing scheme to set so as to minimize total expenditure?

To each variable in the primal space corresponds an inequality to satisfy in the dual space, both indexed by output type. To each inequality to satisfy in the primal space corresponds a variable in the dual space, both indexed by input type.

The coefficients that bound the inequalities in the primal space are used to compute the objective in the dual space, input quantities in this example. The coefficients used to compute the objective in the primal space bound the inequalities in the dual space, output unit prices in this example.

Both the primal and the dual problems make use of the same matrix. In the primal space, this matrix expresses the consumption of physical quantities of inputs necessary to produce set quantities of outputs. In the dual space, it expresses the creation of the economic values associated with the outputs from set input unit prices.

Since each inequality can be replaced by an equality and a slack variable, this means each primal variable corresponds to a dual slack variable, and each dual variable corresponds to a primal slack variable. This relation allows us to complementary slackness.

Read more about this topic:  Linear Programming, Duality

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