NIPS Proceedingsβ

Mixed Robust/Average Submodular Partitioning: Fast Algorithms, Guarantees, and Applications

Part of: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Conference Event Type: Poster


We investigate two novel mixed robust/average-case submodular data partitioning problems that we collectively call Submodular Partitioning. These problems generalize purely robust instances of the problem, namely max-min submodular fair allocation (SFA) and \emph{min-max submodular load balancing} (SLB), and also average-case instances, that is the submodular welfare problem (SWP) and submodular multiway partition (SMP). While the robust versions have been studied in the theory community, existing work has focused on tight approximation guarantees, and the resultant algorithms are not generally scalable to large real-world applications. This contrasts the average case instances, where most of the algorithms are scalable. In the present paper, we bridge this gap, by proposing several new algorithms (including greedy, majorization-minimization, minorization-maximization, and relaxation algorithms) that not only scale to large datasets but that also achieve theoretical approximation guarantees comparable to the state-of-the-art. We moreover provide new scalable algorithms that apply to additive combinations of the robust and average-case objectives. We show that these problems have many applications in machine learning (ML), including data partitioning and load balancing for distributed ML, data clustering, and image segmentation. We empirically demonstrate the efficacy of our algorithms on real-world problems involving data partitioning for distributed optimization (of convex and deep neural network objectives), and also purely unsupervised image segmentation.