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Submodular Maximization through the Lens of Linear Programming

by   Simon Bruggmann, et al.

The simplex algorithm for linear programming is based on the fact that any local optimum with respect to the polyhedral neighborhood is also a global optimum. We show that a similar result carries over to submodular maximization. In particular, every local optimum of a constrained monotone submodular maximization problem yields a 1/2-approximation, and we also present an appropriate extension to the non-monotone setting. However, reaching a local optimum quickly is a non-trivial task. Moreover, we describe a fast and very general local search procedure that applies to a wide range of constraint families, and unifies as well as extends previous methods. In our framework, we match known approximation guarantees while disentangling and simplifying previous approaches. Moreover, despite its generality, we are able to show that our local search procedure is slightly faster than previous specialized methods. Furthermore, we resolve an open question on the relation between linear optimization and submodular maximization; namely, whether a linear optimization oracle may be enough to obtain strong approximation algorithms for submodular maximization. We show that this is not the case by providing an example of a constraint family on a ground set of size n for which, if only given a linear optimization oracle, any algorithm for submodular maximization with a polynomial number of calls to the linear optimization oracle will have an approximation ratio of only O ( 1/√(n)· n/ n ).


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