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Weakly Submodular Maximization Beyond Cardinality Constraints: Does Randomization Help Greedy?

by   Lin Chen, et al.
The Open University of Israel
Yale University

Submodular functions are a broad class of set functions, which naturally arise in diverse areas. Many algorithms have been suggested for the maximization of these functions. Unfortunately, once the function deviates from submodularity, the known algorithms may perform arbitrarily poorly. Amending this issue, by obtaining approximation results for set functions generalizing submodular functions, has been the focus of recent works. One such class, known as weakly submodular functions, has received a lot of attention. A key result proved by Das and Kempe (2011) showed that the approximation ratio of the greedy algorithm for weakly submodular maximization subject to a cardinality constraint degrades smoothly with the distance from submodularity. However, no results have been obtained for maximization subject to constraints beyond cardinality. In particular, it is not known whether the greedy algorithm achieves any non-trivial approximation ratio for such constraints. In this paper, we prove that a randomized version of the greedy algorithm (previously used by Buchbinder et al. (2014) for a different problem) achieves an approximation ratio of (1 + 1/γ)^-2 for the maximization of a weakly submodular function subject to a general matroid constraint, where γ is a parameter measuring the distance of the function from submodularity. Moreover, we also experimentally compare the performance of this version of the greedy algorithm on real world problems against natural benchmarks, and show that the algorithm we study performs well also in practice. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first algorithm with a non-trivial approximation guarantee for maximizing a weakly submodular function subject to a constraint other than the simple cardinality constraint. In particular, it is the first algorithm with such a guarantee for the important and broad class of matroid constraints.


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