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Optimization 3

Moderator: Alex Gittens


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Tue 20 July 17:00 - 17:20 PDT

On the price of explainability for some clustering problems

Eduardo Laber · Lucas Murtinho

The price of explainability for a clustering task can be defined as the unavoidable loss, in terms of the objective function, if we force the final partition to be explainable. Here, we study this price for the following clustering problems: $k$-means, $k$-medians, $k$-centers and maximum-spacing. We provide upper and lower bounds for a natural model where explainability is achieved via decision trees. For the $k$-means and $k$-medians problems our upper bounds improve those obtained by [Dasgupta et. al, ICML 20] for low dimensions. Another contribution is a simple and efficient algorithm for building explainable clusterings for the $k$-means problem. We provide empirical evidence that its performance is better than the current state of the art for decision-tree based explainable clustering.

Tue 20 July 17:20 - 17:25 PDT

Instance Specific Approximations for Submodular Maximization

Eric Balkanski · Sharon Qian · Yaron Singer

The predominant measure for the performance of an algorithm is its worst-case approximation guarantee. While worst-case approximations give desirable robustness guarantees, they can differ significantly from the performance of an algorithm in practice. For the problem of monotone submodular maximization under a cardinality constraint, the greedy algorithm is known to obtain a 1-1/e approximation guarantee, which is optimal for a polynomial-time algorithm. However, very little is known about the approximation achieved by greedy and other submodular maximization algorithms on real instances.

We develop an algorithm that gives an instance-specific approximation for any solution of an instance of monotone submodular maximization under a cardinality constraint. This algorithm uses a novel dual approach to submodular maximization. In particular, it relies on the construction of a lower bound to the dual objective that can also be exactly minimized. We use this algorithm to show that on a wide variety of real-world datasets and objectives, greedy and other algorithms find solutions that approximate the optimal solution significantly better than the 1-1/e ~ 0.63 worst-case approximation guarantee, often exceeding 0.9.

Tue 20 July 17:25 - 17:30 PDT

Adapting to Delays and Data in Adversarial Multi-Armed Bandits

András György · Pooria Joulani

We consider the adversarial multi-armed bandit problem under delayed feedback. We analyze variants of the Exp3 algorithm that tune their step size using only information (about the losses and delays) available at the time of the decisions, and obtain regret guarantees that adapt to the observed (rather than the worst-case) sequences of delays and/or losses. First, through a remarkably simple proof technique, we show that with proper tuning of the step size, the algorithm achieves an optimal (up to logarithmic factors) regret of order $\sqrt{\log(K)(TK + D)}$ both in expectation and in high probability, where $K$ is the number of arms, $T$ is the time horizon, and $D$ is the cumulative delay. The high-probability version of the bound, which is the first high-probability delay-adaptive bound in the literature, crucially depends on the use of implicit exploration in estimating the losses. Then, following Zimmert and Seldin (2019), we extend these results so that the algorithm can ``skip'' rounds with large delays, resulting in regret bounds of order $\sqrt{TK\log(K)} + |R| + \sqrt{D_{\bar{R}}\log(K)}$, where $R$ is an arbitrary set of rounds (which are skipped) and $D_{\bar{R}}$ is the cumulative delay of the feedback for other rounds. Finally, we present another, data-adaptive (AdaGrad-style) version of the algorithm for which the regret adapts to the observed (delayed) losses instead of only adapting to the cumulative delay (this algorithm requires an a priori upper bound on the maximum delay, or the advance knowledge of the delay for each decision when it is made). The resulting bound can be orders of magnitude smaller on benign problems, and it can be shown that the delay only affects the regret through the loss of the best arm.

Tue 20 July 17:30 - 17:35 PDT

Structured Convolutional Kernel Networks for Airline Crew Scheduling

Yassine Yaakoubi · Francois Soumis · Simon Lacoste-Julien

Motivated by the needs from an airline crew scheduling application, we introduce structured convolutional kernel networks (Struct-CKN), which combine CKNs from Mairal et al. (2014) in a structured prediction framework that supports constraints on the outputs. CKNs are a particular kind of convolutional neural networks that approximate a kernel feature map on training data, thus combining properties of deep learning with the non-parametric flexibility of kernel methods. Extending CKNs to structured outputs allows us to obtain useful initial solutions on a flight-connection dataset that can be further refined by an airline crew scheduling solver. More specifically, we use a flight-based network modeled as a general conditional random field capable of incorporating local constraints in the learning process. Our experiments demonstrate that this approach yields significant improvements for the large-scale crew pairing problem (50,000 flights per month) over standard approaches, reducing the solution cost by 17% (a gain of millions of dollars) and the cost of global constraints by 97%.

Tue 20 July 17:35 - 17:40 PDT

Online Graph Dictionary Learning

Cédric Vincent-Cuaz · Titouan Vayer · Rémi Flamary · Marco Corneli · Nicolas Courty

Dictionary learning is a key tool for representation learning, that explains the data as linear combination of few basic elements. Yet, this analysis is not amenable in the context of graph learning, as graphs usually belong to different metric spaces. We fill this gap by proposing a new online Graph Dictionary Learning approach, which uses the Gromov Wasserstein divergence for the data fitting term. In our work, graphs are encoded through their nodes' pairwise relations and modeled as convex combination of graph atoms, i.e. dictionary elements, estimated thanks to an online stochastic algorithm, which operates on a dataset of unregistered graphs with potentially different number of nodes. Our approach naturally extends to labeled graphs, and is completed by a novel upper bound that can be used as a fast approximation of Gromov Wasserstein in the embedding space. We provide numerical evidences showing the interest of our approach for unsupervised embedding of graph datasets and for online graph subspace estimation and tracking.

Tue 20 July 17:40 - 17:45 PDT

Stochastic Iterative Graph Matching

Linfeng Liu · Michael Hughes · Soha Hassoun · Liping Liu

Recent works apply Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to graph matching tasks and show promising results. Considering that model outputs are complex matchings, we devise several techniques to improve the learning of GNNs and obtain a new model, Stochastic Iterative Graph MAtching (SIGMA). Our model predicts a distribution of matchings, instead of a single matching, for a graph pair so the model can explore several probable matchings. We further introduce a novel multi-step matching procedure, which learns how to refine a graph pair's matching results incrementally. The model also includes dummy nodes so that the model does not have to find matchings for nodes without correspondence. We fit this model to data via scalable stochastic optimization. We conduct extensive experiments across synthetic graph datasets as well as biochemistry and computer vision applications. Across all tasks, our results show that SIGMA can produce significantly improved graph matching results compared to state-of-the-art models. Ablation studies verify that each of our components (stochastic training, iterative matching, and dummy nodes) offers noticeable improvement.

Tue 20 July 17:45 - 17:50 PDT

Training Quantized Neural Networks to Global Optimality via Semidefinite Programming

Burak Bartan · Mert Pilanci

Neural networks (NNs) have been extremely successful across many tasks in machine learning. Quantization of NN weights has become an important topic due to its impact on their energy efficiency, inference time and deployment on hardware. Although post-training quantization is well-studied, training optimal quantized NNs involves combinatorial non-convex optimization problems which appear intractable. In this work, we introduce a convex optimization strategy to train quantized NNs with polynomial activations. Our method leverages hidden convexity in two-layer neural networks from the recent literature, semidefinite lifting, and Grothendieck's identity. Surprisingly, we show that certain quantized NN problems can be solved to global optimality provably in polynomial time in all relevant parameters via tight semidefinite relaxations. We present numerical examples to illustrate the effectiveness of our method.

Tue 20 July 17:50 - 17:55 PDT