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  1. It is well known that the standard greedy algorithm guarantees a worst-case approximation factor of 1 − 1/e when maximizing a monotone submodular function under a cardinality constraint. However, empirical studies show that its performance is substantially better in practice. This raises a natural question of explaining this improved performance of the greedy algorithm. In this work, we define sharpness for submodular functions as a candidate explanation for this phenomenon. We show that the greedy algorithm provably performs better as the sharpness of the submodular function increases. This improvement ties in closely with the faster convergence rates of first ordermore »methods for sharp functions in convex optimization.« less
  2. A major challenge in cancer genomics is to identify genes with functional roles in cancer and uncover their mechanisms of action. We introduce an integrative framework that identifies cancer-relevant genes by pinpointing those whose interaction or other functional sites are enriched in somatic mutations across tumors. We derive analytical calculations that enable us to avoid time-prohibitive permutation-based significance tests, making it computationally feasible to simultaneously consider multiple measures of protein site functionality. Our accompanying software, PertInInt, combines knowledge about sites participating in interactions with DNA, RNA, peptides, ions, or small molecules with domain, evolutionary conservation, and gene-level mutation data. Whenmore »applied to 10,037 tumor samples, PertInInt uncovers both known and newly predicted cancer genes, while additionally revealing what types of interactions or other functionalities are disrupted. PertInInt’s analysis demonstrates that somatic mutations are frequently enriched in interaction sites and domains and implicates interaction perturbation as a pervasive cancer-driving event.« less
  3. Motivated by the use of high speed circuit switches in large scale data centers, we consider the problem of circuit switch scheduling. In this problem we are given demands between pairs of servers and the goal is to schedule at every time step a matching between the servers while maximizing the total satisfied demand over time. The crux of this scheduling problem is that once one shifts from one matching to a different one a fixed delay delta is incurred during which no data can be transmitted. For the offline version of the problem we present a (1-(1/e)-epsilon) approximation ratiomore »(for any constant epsilon >0). Since the natural linear programming relaxation for the problem has an unbounded integrality gap, we adopt a hybrid approach that combines the combinatorial greedy with randomized rounding of a different suitable linear program. For the online version of the problem we present a (bi-criteria) ((e-1)/(2e-1)-epsilon)-competitive ratio (for any constant epsilon >0 ) that exceeds time by an additive factor of O(delta/epsilon). We note that no uni-criteria online algorithm is possible. Surprisingly, we obtain the result by reducing the online version to the offline one.« less
  4. Semi-definite programming is a powerful tool in the design and analysis of approximation algorithms for combinatorial optimization problems. In particular, the random hyperplane rounding method of Goemans and Williamson [23] has been extensively studied for more than two decades, resulting in various extensions to the original technique and beautiful algorithms for a wide range of applications. Despite the fact that this approach yields tight approximation guarantees for some problems, e.g., Max-Cut, for many others, e.g., Max-SAT and Max-DiCut, the tight approximation ratio is still unknown. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that very few techniques formore »rounding semi-definite relaxations are known. In this work, we present a new general and simple method for rounding semi-definite programs, based on Brownian motion. Our approach is inspired by recent results in algorithmic discrepancy theory. We develop and present tools for analyzing our new rounding algorithms, utilizing mathematical machinery from the theory of Brownian motion, complex analysis, and partial differential equations. Focusing on constraint satisfaction problems, we apply our method to several classical problems, including Max-Cut, Max-2SAT, and Max-DiCut, and derive new algorithms that are competitive with the best known results. To illustrate the versatility and general applicability of our approach, we give new approximation algorithms for the Max-Cut problem with side constraints that crucially utilizes measure concentration results for the Sticky Brownian Motion, a feature missing from hyperplane rounding and its generalizations.« less
  5. In an optimal design problem, we are given a set of linear experiments v1,…,vn∈Rd and k≥d, and our goal is to select a set or a multiset S⊆[n] of size k such that Φ((∑i∈Sviv⊤i)−1) is minimized. When Φ(M)=Determinant(M)1/d, the problem is known as the D-optimal design problem, and when Φ(M)=Trace(M), it is known as the A-optimal design problem. One of the most common heuristics used in practice to solve these problems is the local search heuristic, also known as the Fedorov’s exchange method (Fedorov, 1972). This is due to its simplicity and its empirical performance (Cook and Nachtrheim, 1980; Millermore »and Nguyen, 1994; Atkinson et al., 2007). However, despite its wide usage no theoretical bound has been proven for this algorithm. In this paper, we bridge this gap and prove approximation guarantees for the local search algorithms for D-optimal design and A-optimal design problems. We show that the local search algorithms are asymptotically optimal when kd is large. In addition to this, we also prove similar approximation guarantees for the greedy algorithms for D-optimal design and A-optimal design problems when k/d is large.« less
  6. In an optimal design problem, we are given a set of linear experiments v1,…,vn∈Rd and k≥d, and our goal is to select a set or a multiset S⊆[n] of size k such that Φ((∑i∈Sviv⊤i)−1) is minimized. When Φ(M)=Determinant(M)1/d, the problem is known as the D-optimal design problem, and when Φ(M)=Trace(M), it is known as the A-optimal design problem. One of the most common heuristics used in practice to solve these problems is the local search heuristic, also known as the Fedorov’s exchange method (Fedorov, 1972). This is due to its simplicity and its empirical performance (Cook and Nachtrheim, 1980; Millermore »and Nguyen, 1994; Atkinson et al., 2007). However, despite its wide usage no theoretical bound has been proven for this algorithm. In this paper, we bridge this gap and prove approximation guarantees for the local search algorithms for D-optimal design and A-optimal design problems. We show that the local search algorithms are asymptotically optimal when kd is large. In addition to this, we also prove similar approximation guarantees for the greedy algorithms for D-optimal design and A-optimal design problems when kd is large.« less
  7. Constrained submodular function maximization has been used in subset selection problems such as selection of most informative sensor locations. While these models have been quite popular, the solutions obtained via this approach are unstable to perturbations in data defining the submodular functions. Robust submodular maximization has been proposed as a richer model that aims to overcome this discrepancy as well as increase the modeling scope of submodular optimization. In this work, we consider robust submodular maximization with structured combinatorial constraints and give efficient algorithms with provable guarantees. Our approach is applicable to constraints defined by single or multiple matroids, knapsackmore »as well as distributionally robust criteria. We consider both the offline setting where the data defining the problem is known in advance as well as the online setting where the input data is revealed over time. For the offline setting, we give a nearly optimal bi-criteria approximation algorithm that relies on new extensions of the classical greedy algorithm. For the online version of the problem, we give an algorithm that returns a bi-criteria solution with sub-linear regret.« less