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# Combinatorial Bayesian optimization with random mapping functions to convex polytopes

*Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence*, PMLR 180:1001-1011, 2022.

#### Abstract

Bayesian optimization is a popular method for solving the problem of global optimization of an expensive-to-evaluate black-box function. It relies on a probabilistic surrogate model of the objective function, upon which an acquisition function is built to determine where next to evaluate the objective function. In general, Bayesian optimization with Gaussian process regression operates on a continuous space. When input variables are categorical or discrete, an extra care is needed. A common approach is to use one-hot encoded or Boolean representation for categorical variables which might yield a combinatorial explosion problem. In this paper we present a method for Bayesian optimization in a combinatorial space, which can operate well in a large combinatorial space. The main idea is to use a random mapping which embeds the combinatorial space into a convex polytope in a continuous space, on which all essential process is performed to determine a solution to the black-box optimization in the combinatorial space. We describe our combinatorial Bayesian optimization algorithm and present its regret analysis. Numerical experiments demonstrate that our method shows satisfactory performance compared to existing methods.