Multi-objective Maximization of Monotone Submodular Functions with Cardinality Constraint

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Rajan Udwani


We consider the problem of multi-objective maximization of monotone submodular functions subject to cardinality constraint, often formulated as $\max_{|A|=k}\min_{i\in\{1,\dots,m\}}f_i(A)$. While it is widely known that greedy methods work well for a single objective, the problem becomes much harder with multiple objectives. In fact, Krause et al.\ (2008) showed that when the number of objectives $m$ grows as the cardinality $k$ i.e., $m=\Omega(k)$, the problem is inapproximable (unless $P=NP$). On the other hand, when $m$ is constant Chekuri et al.\ (2010) showed a randomized $(1-1/e)-\epsilon$ approximation with runtime (number of queries to function oracle) $n^{m/\epsilon^3}$. %In fact, the result of Chekuri et al.\ (2010) is for the far more general case of matroid constant. We focus on finding a fast and practical algorithm that has (asymptotic) approximation guarantees even when $m$ is super constant. We first modify the algorithm of Chekuri et al.\ (2010) to achieve a $(1-1/e)$ approximation for $m=o(\frac{k}{\log^3 k})$. This demonstrates a steep transition from constant factor approximability to inapproximability around $m=\Omega(k)$. Then using Multiplicative-Weight-Updates (MWU), we find a much faster $\tilde{O}(n/\delta^3)$ time asymptotic $(1-1/e)^2-\delta$ approximation. While the above results are all randomized, we also give a simple deterministic $(1-1/e)-\epsilon$ approximation with runtime $kn^{m/\epsilon^4}$. Finally, we run synthetic experiments using Kronecker graphs and find that our MWU inspired heuristic outperforms existing heuristics.