Online Learning of Assignments

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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Matthew Streeter, Daniel Golovin, Andreas Krause


Which ads should we display in sponsored search in order to maximize our revenue? How should we dynamically rank information sources to maximize value of information? These applications exhibit strong diminishing returns: Selection of redundant ads and information sources decreases their marginal utility. We show that these and other problems can be formalized as repeatedly selecting an assignment of items to positions to maximize a sequence of monotone submodular functions that arrive one by one. We present an efficient algorithm for this general problem and analyze it in the no-regret model. Our algorithm is equipped with strong theoretical guarantees, with a performance ratio that converges to the optimal constant of 1-1/e. We empirically evaluate our algorithms on two real-world online optimization problems on the web: ad allocation with submodular utilities, and dynamically ranking blogs to detect information cascades.