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Competitive caching with machine learned advice

by   Thodoris Lykouris, et al.

Traditional online algorithms encapsulate decision making under uncertainty, and give ways to hedge against all possible future events, while guaranteeing a nearly optimal solution as compared to an offline optimum. On the other hand, machine learning algorithms are in the business of extrapolating patterns found in the data to predict the future, and usually come with strong guarantees on the expected generalization error. In this work we develop a framework for augmenting online algorithms with a machine learned oracle to achieve competitive ratios that provably improve upon unconditional worst case lower bounds when the oracle has low error. Our approach treats the oracle as a complete black box, and is not dependent on its inner workings, or the exact distribution of its errors. We apply this framework to the traditional caching problem -- creating an eviction strategy for a cache of size k. We demonstrate that naively following the oracle's recommendations may lead to very poor performance, even when the average error is quite low. Instead we show how to modify the Marker algorithm to take into account the oracle's predictions, and prove that this combined approach achieves a competitive ratio that both (i) decreases as the oracle's error decreases, and (ii) is always capped by O( k), which can be achieved without any oracle input. We complement our results with an empirical evaluation of our algorithm on real world datasets, and show that it performs well empirically even using simple off-the-shelf predictions.


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