The Power of Adaptivity for Stochastic Submodular Cover

Rohan Ghuge · Anupam Gupta · viswanath nagarajan

[ Abstract ] [ Livestream: Visit Optimization (Stochastic) ] [ Paper ]
[ Paper ]

In the stochastic submodular cover problem, the goal is to select a subset of stochastic items of minimum expected cost to cover a submodular function. Solutions in this setting correspond to a sequential decision process that selects items one by one ``adaptively'' (depending on prior observations). While such adaptive solutions achieve the best objective, the inherently sequential nature makes them undesirable in many applications. We ask: \emph{how well can solutions with only a few adaptive rounds approximate fully-adaptive solutions?} We consider both cases where the stochastic items are independent, and where they are correlated. For both situations, we obtain nearly tight answers, establishing smooth tradeoffs between the number of adaptive rounds and the solution quality, relative to fully adaptive solutions. Experiments on synthetic and real datasets validate the practical performance of our algorithms, showing qualitative improvements in the solutions as we allow more rounds of adaptivity; in practice, solutions using just a few rounds of adaptivity are nearly as good as fully adaptive solutions.

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