Filtered Search for Submodular Maximization with Controllable Approximation Bounds


Wenlin Chen, Yixin Chen, Kilian Weinberger ;
Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 38:156-164, 2015.


Most existing submodular maximization algorithms provide theoretical guarantees with approximation bounds. However, in many cases, users may be interested in an anytime algorithm that can offer a flexible trade-off between computation time and optimality guarantees. In this paper, we propose a filtered search (FS) framework that allows the user to set an arbitrary approximation bound guarantee with a “tunable knob”, from 0 (arbitrarily bad) to 1 (globally optimal). FS naturally handles monotone and non-monotone functions as well as unconstrained problems and problems with cardinality, matroid, and knapsack constraints. Further, it can also be applied to (non-negative) non-submodular functions and still gives controllable approximation bounds based on their submodularity ratio. Finally, FS encompasses the greedy algorithm as a special case. Our framework is based on theory in A* search, but is substantially more efficient because it only requires heuristics that are critically admissible (CA) rather than admissible—a condition that gives more effective pruning and is substantially easier to implement.

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