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# Generative Pretraining for Black-Box Optimization

*Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 202:24173-24197, 2023.

#### Abstract

Many problems in science and engineering involve optimizing an expensive black-box function over a high-dimensional space. In the offline model-based optimization (MBO) setting, we assume access to a fixed, offline dataset for pretraining and a small budget for online function evaluations. Prior approaches seek to utilize the offline data to approximate the function or its inverse but are not sufficiently accurate far from the data distribution. We propose BONET, a generative framework for pretraining a novel model-based optimizer using offline datasets. In BONET, we train an autoregressive model on fixed-length trajectories derived from an offline dataset. We design a sampling strategy to synthesize trajectories from offline data using a simple heuristic of rolling out monotonic transitions from low-fidelity to high-fidelity samples. Empirically, we instantiate BONET using a causally masked Transformer (Radford et al., 2019) and evaluate it on Design-Bench (Trabucco et al., 2022), where we rank the best on average, outperforming state-of-the-art baselines.