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Obtaining Approximately Optimal and Diverse Solutions via Dispersion

by   Jie Gao, et al.
CUNY Law School
Stony Brook University
Rutgers University
Academia Sinica

There has been a long-standing interest in computing diverse solutions to optimization problems. Motivated by reallocation of governmental institutions in Sweden, in 1995 J. Krarup posed the problem of finding k edge-disjoint Hamiltonian Circuits of minimum total weight, called the peripatetic salesman problem (PSP). Since then researchers have investigated the complexity of finding diverse solutions to spanning trees, paths, vertex covers, matchings, and more. Unlike the PSP that has a constraint on the total weight of the solutions, recent work has involved finding diverse solutions that are all optimal. However, sometimes the space of exact solutions may be too small to achieve sufficient diversity. Motivated by this, we initiate the study of obtaining sufficiently-diverse, yet approximately-optimal solutions to optimization problems. Formally, given an integer k, an approximation factor c, and an instance I of an optimization problem, we aim to obtain a set of k solutions to I that a) are all c approximately-optimal for I and b) maximize the diversity of the k solutions. Finding such solutions, therefore, requires a better understanding of the global landscape of the optimization function. We show that, given any metric on the space of solutions, and the diversity measure as the sum of pairwise distances between solutions, this problem can be solved by combining ideas from dispersion and multicriteria optimization. We first provide a general reduction to an associated budget-constrained optimization (BCO) problem, where one objective function is to be maximized (minimized) subject to a bound on the second objective function. We then prove that bi-approximations to the BCO can be used to give bi-approximations to the diverse approximately optimal solutions problem with a little overhead.


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