A new dog learns old tricks: RL finds classic optimization algorithms

Weiwei Kong, Christopher Liaw, Aranyak Mehta, D. Sivakumar

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: This paper introduces a novel framework for learning algorithms to solve online combinatorial optimization problems. Towards this goal, we introduce a number of key ideas from traditional algorithms and complexity theory. First, we draw a new connection between primal-dual methods and reinforcement learning. Next, we introduce the concept of adversarial distributions (universal and high-entropy training sets), which are distributions that encourage the learner to find algorithms that work well in the worst case. We test our new ideas on a number of optimization problem such as the AdWords problem, the online knapsack problem, and the secretary problem. Our results indicate that the models have learned behaviours that are consistent with the traditional optimal algorithms for these problems.
  • Keywords: reinforcement learning, algorithms, adwords, knapsack, secretary
  • TL;DR: By combining ideas from traditional algorithms design and reinforcement learning, we introduce a novel framework for learning algorithms that solve online combinatorial optimization problems.
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