Golovin, Daniel, Krause, Andreas

Solving stochastic optimization problems under partial observability, where one needs to adaptively make decisions with uncertain outcomes, is a fundamental but notoriously difficult challenge. In this paper, we introduce the concept of adaptive submodularity, generalizing submodular set functions to adaptive policies. We prove that if a problem satisfies this property, a simple adaptive greedy algorithm is guaranteed to be competitive with the optimal policy. In addition to providing performance guarantees for both stochastic maximization and coverage, adaptive submodularity can be exploited to drastically speed up the greedy algorithm by using lazy evaluations. We illustrate the usefulness of the concept by giving several examples of adaptive submodular objectives arising in diverse applications including sensor placement, viral marketing and active learning. Proving adaptive submodularity for these problems allows us to recover existing results in these applications as special cases, improve approximation guarantees and handle natural generalizations.

Many problems in artificial intelligence require adaptively making a sequence of decisions with uncertain outcomes under partial observability. Solving such stochastic optimization problems is a fundamental but notoriously difficult challenge. In this paper, we introduce the concept of adaptive submodularity, generalizing submodular set functions to adaptive policies. We prove that if a problem satisfies this property, a simple adaptive greedy algorithm is guaranteed to be competitive with the optimal policy. In addition to providing performance guarantees for both stochastic maximization and coverage, adaptive submodularity can be exploited to drastically speed up the greedy algorithm by using lazy evaluations. We illustrate the usefulness of the concept by giving several examples of adaptive submodular objectives arising in diverse AI applications including management of sensing resources, viral marketing and active learning. Proving adaptive submodularity for these problems allows us to recover existing results in these applications as special cases, improve approximation guarantees and handle natural generalizations.

Esfandiari, Hossein, Karbasi, Amin, Mirrokni, Vahab

Adaptive sequential decision making is one of the central challenges in machine learning and artificial intelligence. In such problems, the goal is to design an interactive policy that plans for an action to take, from a finite set of $n$ actions, given some partial observations. It has been shown that in many applications such as active learning, robotics, sequential experimental design, and active detection, the utility function satisfies adaptive submodularity, a notion that generalizes the notion of diminishing returns to policies. In this paper, we revisit the power of adaptivity in maximizing an adaptive monotone submodular function. We propose an efficient batch policy that with $O(\log n \times\log k)$ adaptive rounds of observations can achieve an almost tight $(1-1/e-\epsilon)$ approximation guarantee with respect to an optimal policy that carries out $k$ actions in a fully sequential setting. To complement our results, we also show that it is impossible to achieve a constant factor approximation with $o(\log n)$ adaptive rounds. We also extend our result to the case of adaptive stochastic minimum cost coverage where the goal is to reach a desired utility $Q$ with the cheapest policy. We first prove the conjecture by Golovin and Krause that the greedy policy achieves the asymptotically tight logarithmic approximation guarantee without resorting to stronger notions of adaptivity. We then propose a batch policy that provides the same guarantee in polylogarithmic adaptive rounds through a similar information-parallelism scheme. Our results shrink the adaptivity gap in adaptive submodular maximization by an exponential factor.

We study the adaptive influence maximization problem with myopic feedback under the independent cascade model: one sequentially selects k nodes as seeds one by one from a social network, and each selected seed returns the immediate neighbors it activates as the feedback available for by later selections, and the goal is to maximize the expected number of total activated nodes, referred as the influence spread. We show that the adaptivity gap, the ratio between the optimal adaptive influence spread and the optimal non-adaptive influence spread, is at most 4 and at least e/(e-1), and the approximation ratios with respect to the optimal adaptive influence spread of both the non-adaptive greedy and adaptive greedy algorithms are at least \frac{1}{4}(1 - \frac{1}{e}) and at most \frac{e 2 1}{(e 1) 2} 1 - \frac{1}{e}. Moreover, the approximation ratio of the non-adaptive greedy algorithm is no worse than that of the adaptive greedy algorithm, when considering all graphs. Our result confirms a long-standing open conjecture of Golovin and Krause (2011) on the constant approximation ratio of adaptive greedy with myopic feedback, and it also suggests that adaptive greedy may not bring much benefit under myopic feedback. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

We study the worst-case adaptive optimization problem with budget constraint that is useful for modeling various practical applications in artificial intelligence and machine learning. We investigate the near-optimality of greedy algorithms for this problem with both modular and non-modular cost functions. In both cases, we prove that two simple greedy algorithms are not near-optimal but the best between them is near-optimal if the utility function satisfies pointwise submodularity and pointwise cost-sensitive submodularity respectively. This implies a combined algorithm that is near-optimal with respect to the optimal algorithm that uses half of the budget. We discuss applications of our theoretical results and also report experiments comparing the greedy algorithms on the active learning problem.