Learning Hard Optimization Problems: A Data Generation Perspective

James Kotary, Ferdinando Fioretto, Pascal Van Hentenryck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Optimization problems are ubiquitous in our societies and are present in almost every segment of the economy. Many of these optimization problems are NP-hard and computationally demanding, often requiring approximate solutions for large-scale instances. Machine learning frameworks that learn to approximate solutions to such hard optimization problems are a potentially promising avenue to address these difficulties, particularly when many closely related problem instances must be solved repeatedly. Supervised learning frameworks can train a model using the outputs of pre-solved instances. However, when the outputs are themselves approximations, when the optimization problem has symmetric solutions, and/or when the solver uses randomization, solutions to closely related instances may exhibit large differences and the learning task can become inherently more difficult. This paper demonstrates this critical challenge, connects the variation of the training data to the ability of a model to approximate it, and proposes a method for producing (exact or approximate) solutions to optimization problems that are more amenable to supervised learning tasks. The effectiveness of the method is tested on hard non-linear nonconvex and discrete combinatorial problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 - 35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
EditorsMarc'Aurelio Ranzato, Alina Beygelzimer, Yann Dauphin, Percy S. Liang, Jenn Wortman Vaughan
PublisherNeural information processing systems foundation
Pages24981-24992
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781713845393
StatePublished - 2021
Event35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Dec 6 2021Dec 14 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
Volume30
ISSN (Print)1049-5258

Conference

Conference35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period12/6/2112/14/21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing

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