We propose a streaming submodular maximization algorithm "stream clipper" that performs as well as the offline greedy algorithm on document/video summarization in practice. It adds elements from a stream either to a solution set $S$ or to an extra buffer $B$ based on two adaptive thresholds, and improves $S$ by a final greedy step that starts from $S$ adding elements from $B$. During this process, swapping elements out of $S$ can occur if doing so yields improvements. The thresholds adapt based on if current memory utilization exceeds a budget, e.g., it increases the lower threshold, and removes from the buffer $B$ elements below the new lower threshold. We show that, while our approximation factor in the worst case is $1/2$ (like in previous work, and corresponding to the tight bound), we show that there are data-dependent conditions where our bound falls within the range $[1/2, 1-1/e]$. In news and video summarization experiments, the algorithm consistently outperforms other streaming methods, and, while using significantly less computation and memory, performs similarly to the offline greedy algorithm.

Norouzi-Fard, Ashkan, Tarnawski, Jakub, Mitrović, Slobodan, Zandieh, Amir, Mousavifar, Aida, Svensson, Ola

Many tasks in machine learning and data mining, such as data diversification, non-parametric learning, kernel machines, clustering etc., require extracting a small but representative summary from a massive dataset. Often, such problems can be posed as maximizing a submodular set function subject to a cardinality constraint. We consider this question in the streaming setting, where elements arrive over time at a fast pace and thus we need to design an efficient, low-memory algorithm. One such method, proposed by Badanidiyuru et al. (2014), always finds a $0.5$-approximate solution. Can this approximation factor be improved? We answer this question affirmatively by designing a new algorithm SALSA for streaming submodular maximization. It is the first low-memory, single-pass algorithm that improves the factor $0.5$, under the natural assumption that elements arrive in a random order. We also show that this assumption is necessary, i.e., that there is no such algorithm with better than $0.5$-approximation when elements arrive in arbitrary order. Our experiments demonstrate that SALSA significantly outperforms the state of the art in applications related to exemplar-based clustering, social graph analysis, and recommender systems.

Mitrovic, Slobodan, Bogunovic, Ilija, Norouzi-Fard, Ashkan, Tarnawski, Jakub M., Cevher, Volkan

We study the classical problem of maximizing a monotone submodular function subject to a cardinality constraint k, with two additional twists: (i) elements arrive in a streaming fashion, and (ii) m items from the algorithm’s memory are removed after the stream is finished. We develop a robust submodular algorithm STAR-T. It is based on a novel partitioning structure and an exponentially decreasing thresholding rule. STAR-T makes one pass over the data and retains a short but robust summary. We show that after the removal of any m elements from the obtained summary, a simple greedy algorithm STAR-T-GREEDY that runs on the remaining elements achieves a constant-factor approximation guarantee. In two different data summarization tasks, we demonstrate that it matches or outperforms existing greedy and streaming methods, even if they are allowed the benefit of knowing the removed subset in advance.

Zhou, Tianyi, Ouyang, Hua, Chang, Yi, Bilmes, Jeff, Guestrin, Carlos

We propose a new random pruning method (called "submodular sparsification (SS)") to reduce the cost of submodular maximization. The pruning is applied via a "submodularity graph" over the $n$ ground elements, where each directed edge is associated with a pairwise dependency defined by the submodular function. In each step, SS prunes a $1-1/\sqrt{c}$ (for $c>1$) fraction of the nodes using weights on edges computed based on only a small number ($O(\log n)$) of randomly sampled nodes. The algorithm requires $\log_{\sqrt{c}}n$ steps with a small and highly parallelizable per-step computation. An accuracy-speed tradeoff parameter $c$, set as $c = 8$, leads to a fast shrink rate $\sqrt{2}/4$ and small iteration complexity $\log_{2\sqrt{2}}n$. Analysis shows that w.h.p., the greedy algorithm on the pruned set of size $O(\log^2 n)$ can achieve a guarantee similar to that of processing the original dataset. In news and video summarization tasks, SS is able to substantially reduce both computational costs and memory usage, while maintaining (or even slightly exceeding) the quality of the original (and much more costly) greedy algorithm.

Kazemi, Ehsan, Minaee, Shervin, Feldman, Moran, Karbasi, Amin

In this paper, we propose scalable methods for maximizing a regularized submodular function $f = g - \ell$ expressed as the difference between a monotone submodular function $g$ and a modular function $\ell$. Indeed, submodularity is inherently related to the notions of diversity, coverage, and representativeness. In particular, finding the mode of many popular probabilistic models of diversity, such as determinantal point processes, submodular probabilistic models, and strongly log-concave distributions, involves maximization of (regularized) submodular functions. Since a regularized function $f$ can potentially take on negative values, the classic theory of submodular maximization, which heavily relies on the non-negativity assumption of submodular functions, may not be applicable. To circumvent this challenge, we develop the first one-pass streaming algorithm for maximizing a regularized submodular function subject to a $k$-cardinality constraint. It returns a solution $S$ with the guarantee that $f(S)\geq(\phi^{-2}-\epsilon) \cdot g(OPT)-\ell (OPT)$, where $\phi$ is the golden ratio. Furthermore, we develop the first distributed algorithm that returns a solution $S$ with the guarantee that $\mathbb{E}[f(S)] \geq (1-\epsilon) [(1-e^{-1}) \cdot g(OPT)-\ell(OPT)]$ in $O(1/ \epsilon)$ rounds of MapReduce computation, without keeping multiple copies of the entire dataset in each round (as it is usually done). We should highlight that our result, even for the unregularized case where the modular term $\ell$ is zero, improves the memory and communication complexity of the existing work by a factor of $O(1/ \epsilon)$ while arguably provides a simpler distributed algorithm and a unifying analysis. We also empirically study the performance of our scalable methods on a set of real-life applications, including finding the mode of distributions, data summarization, and product recommendation.