Bi-Objective Online Matching and Submodular Allocations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)

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Hossein Esfandiari, Nitish Korula, Vahab Mirrokni


Online allocation problems have been widely studied due to their numerous practical applications (particularly to Internet advertising), as well as considerable theoretical interest. The main challenge in such problems is making assignment decisions in the face of uncertainty about future input; effective algorithms need to predict which constraints are most likely to bind, and learn the balance between short-term gain and the value of long-term resource availability. In many important applications, the algorithm designer is faced with multiple objectives to optimize. In particular, in online advertising it is fairly common to optimize multiple metrics, such as clicks, conversions, and impressions, as well as other metrics which may be largely uncorrelated such as ‘share of voice’, and ‘buyer surplus’. While there has been considerable work on multi-objective offline optimization (when the entire input is known in advance), very little is known about the online case, particularly in the case of adversarial input. In this paper, we give the first results for bi-objective online submodular optimization, providing almost matching upper and lower bounds for allocating items to agents with two submodular value functions. We also study practically relevant special cases of this problem related to Internet advertising, and obtain improved results. All our algorithms are nearly best possible, as well as being efficient and easy to implement in practice.