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Safe Interval Path Planning (SIPP) is a powerful algorithm for solving a single-agent pathfinding problem where the agent is confined to a graph and certain vertices/edges of this graph are blocked at certain time intervals due to dynamic obstacles that populate the environment. The original SIPP algorithm relies on the assumption that the agent is able to stop instantaneously. However, this assumption often does not hold in practice, e.g. a mobile robot moving at a cruising speed cannot stop immediately but rather requires gradual deceleration to a full stop that takes time. In other words, the robot is subject to kinodynamic constraints. Unfortunately, as we show in this work, in such a case, the original SIPP is incomplete. To this end, we introduce a novel variant of SIPP that is provably complete and optimal for planning with acceleration/deceleration. In the experimental evaluation, we show that the key property of the original SIPP still holds for the modified version: it performs much fewer expansions compared to A* and, as a result, is notably faster.

Given a set X of n points in a metric space, the problem of diversity maximization is to extract a set S of k points from X so that the diversity of S is maximized. This problem is essential in AI-related fields, such as web search, databases, recommender systems, and data mining. Although there have been extensive studies of this problem, these studies assume that X is clean. This usually does not hold, because real-world datasets usually contain outliers. The state-of-the-art algorithm for the diversity maximization problem is based on furthest point retrieval, which is too sensitive to outliers. We therefore address the problem of diversity maximization with outliers and propose two algorithms with performance guarantee. The first algorithm runs in O((k+z)n) time, guarantees 1/2-approximation, and returns no outliers, where z is the number of outliers. The second algorithm runs in O(kz) time (which is independent of n), guarantees 1/6(1+epsilon)-approximation, and returns no outliers with constant probability. We conduct experiments on real datasets to demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our algorithms.

The computation of short paths in graphs with arc lengths is a pillar of graph algorithmics and network science. In a more diverse world, however, not every short path is equally valuable. For the setting where each vertex is assigned to a group (color), we provide a framework to model multiple natural fairness aspects. We seek to find short paths in which the number of occurrences of each color is within some given lower and upper bounds. Among other results, we prove the introduced problems to be computationally intractable (NP-hard and parameterized hard with respect to the number of colors) even in very restricted settings (such as each color should appear with exactly the same frequency), while also presenting an encouraging algorithmic result ("fixed-parameter tractability") related to the length of the sought solution path for the general problem.

We study the algorithm configuration (AC) problem, in which one seeks to find an optimal parameter configuration of a given target algorithm in an automated way. Although this field of research has experienced much progress recently regarding approaches satisfying strong theoretical guarantees, there is still a gap between the practical performance of these approaches and the heuristic state-of-the-art approaches. Recently, there has been significant progress in designing AC approaches that satisfy strong theoretical guarantees. However, a significant gap still remains between the practical performance of these approaches and state-of-the-art heuristic methods. To this end, we introduce AC-Band, a general approach for the AC problem based on multi-armed bandits that provides theoretical guarantees while exhibiting strong practical performance. We show that AC-Band requires significantly less computation time than other AC approaches providing theoretical guarantees while still yielding high-quality configurations.

Signed networks (networks with positive and negative edges) commonly arise in various domains from molecular biology to social media. The edge signs -- i.e., the graph signage -- represent the interaction pattern between the vertices and can provide insights into the underlying system formation process. Generative models considering signage formation are essential for testing hypotheses about the emergence of interactions and for creating synthetic datasets for algorithm benchmarking (especially in areas where obtaining real-world datasets is difficult). In this work, we pose a novel Maximum-Likelihood-based optimization problem for modeling signages given their topology and showcase it in the context of gene regulation. Regulatory interactions of genes play a key role in the process of organism development, and when broken can lead to serious organism abnormalities and diseases. Our contributions are threefold: First, we design a new class of signage models for a given topology, and, based on the parameter setting, we discuss its biological interpretations for gene regulatory networks (GRNs). Second, we design algorithms computing the Maximum Likelihood -- depending on the parameter setting, our algorithms range from closed-form expressions to MCMC sampling. Third, we evaluated the results of our algorithms on synthetic datasets and real-world large GRNs. Our work can lead to the prediction of unknown gene regulations, novel biological hypotheses, and realistic benchmark datasets in the realm of gene regulation.

In many computer games up to hundreds of agents navigate in real-time across a dynamically changing weighted grid map. Pathfinding in these situations is challenging because the grids are large, traversal costs are not uniform, and because each shortest path has many symmetric permutations, all of which must be considered by an optimal online search. In this work we introduce Weighted Jump Point Search (JPSW), a new type of pathfinding algorithm which breaks weighted grid symmetries by introducing a tiebreaking policy that allows us to apply effective pruning rules in symmetric regions. We show that these pruning rules preserve at least one optimal path to every grid cell and that their application can yield large performance improvements for optimal pathfinding. We give a complete theoretical description of the new algorithm, including pseudo-code. We also conduct a wide-ranging experimental evaluation, including data from real games. Results indicate JPSW is up to orders of magnitude faster than the nearest baseline, online search using A*.

Nested Rollout Policy Adaptation (NRPA) is an approach using online learning policies in a nested structure. It has achieved a great result in a variety of difficult combinatorial optimization problems. In this paper, we propose Meta-NRPA, which combines optimal stopping theory with NRPA for warm-starting and significantly improves the performance of NRPA. We also present several exploratory techniques for NRPA which enable it to perform better exploration. We establish this for three notoriously difficult problems ranging from telecommunication, transportation and coding theory namely Minimum Congestion Shortest Path Routing, Traveling Salesman Problem with Time Windows and Snake-in-the-Box. We also improve the lower bounds of the Snake-in-the-Box problem for multiple dimensions.

Evolutionary algorithms are popular algorithms for multiobjective optimisation (also called Pareto optimisation) as they use a population to store trade-offs between different objectives. Despite their popularity, the theoretical foundation of multiobjective evolutionary optimisation (EMO) is still in its early development. Fundamental questions such as the benefits of the crossover operator are still not fully understood. We provide a theoretical analysis of well-known EMO algorithms GSEMO and NSGA-II to showcase the possible advantages of crossover. We propose a class of problems on which these EMO algorithms using crossover find the Pareto set in expected polynomial time. In sharp contrast, they and many other EMO algorithms without crossover require exponential time to even find a single Pareto-optimal point. This is the first example of an exponential performance gap through the use of crossover for the widely used NSGA-II algorithm.

Very recently, the first mathematical runtime analyses for the NSGA-II, the most common multi-objective evolutionary algorithm, have been conducted. Continuing this research direction, we prove that the NSGA-II optimizes the OneJumpZeroJump benchmark asymptotically faster when crossover is employed. Together with a parallel independent work by Dang, Opris, Salehi, and Sudholt, this is the first time such an advantage of crossover is proven for the NSGA-II. Our arguments can be transferred to single-objective optimization. They then prove that crossover can speed up the (mu+1) genetic algorithm in a different way and more pronounced than known before. Our experiments confirm the added value of crossover and show that the observed advantages are even larger than what our proofs can guarantee.

Due to the more complicated population dynamics of the NSGA-II, none of the existing runtime guarantees for this algorithm is accompanied by a non-trivial lower bound. Via a first mathematical understanding of the population dynamics of the NSGA-II, that is, by estimating the expected number of individuals having a certain objective value, we prove that the NSGA-II with suitable population size needs Omega(Nn log n) function evaluations to find the Pareto front of the OneMinMax problem and Omega(Nn^k) evaluations on the OneJumpZeroJump problem with jump size k. These bounds are asymptotically tight (that is, they match previously shown upper bounds) and show that the NSGA-II here does not even in terms of the parallel runtime (number of iterations) profit from larger population sizes. For the OneJumpZeroJump problem and when the same sorting is used for the computation of the crowding distance contributions of the two objectives, we even obtain a runtime estimate that is tight including the leading constant.

Finding shortest paths in a Euclidean plane containing polygonal obstacles is a well-studied problem motivated by a variety of real-world applications. The state-of-the-art algorithms require finding obstacle corners visible to the source and target, and need to consider potentially a large number of candidate paths. This adversely affects their query processing cost. We address these limitations by proposing a novel adaptation of hub labeling which is the state-of-the-art approach for shortest distance computation in road networks. Our experimental study conducted on the widely used benchmark maps shows that our approach is typically 1-2 orders of magnitude faster than two state-of-the-art algorithms.

Agents that plan and act in the real world must deal with the fact that time passes as they are planning. When timing is tight, there may be insufficient time to complete the search for a plan before it is time to act. By commencing execution before search concludes, one gains time to search by making planning and execution concurrent. However, this incurs the risk of making incorrect action choices, especially if actions are irreversible. This tradeoff between opportunity and risk is the problem addressed in this paper. Our main contribution is to formally define this setting as an abstract metareasoning problem. We find that the abstract problem is intractable. However, we identify special cases that are solvable in polynomial time, develop greedy solution algorithms, and, through tests on instances derived from search problems, find several methods that achieve promising practical performance. This work lays the foundation for a principled time-aware executive that concurrently plans and executes.

Heuristic search algorithms, e.g. A*, are the commonly used tools for pathfinding on grids, i.e. graphs of regular structure that are widely employed to represent environments in robotics, video games, etc. Instance-independent heuristics for grid graphs, e.g. Manhattan distance, do not take the obstacles into account, and thus the search led by such heuristics performs poorly in obstacle-rich environments. To this end, we suggest learning the instance-dependent heuristic proxies that are supposed to notably increase the efficiency of the search. The first heuristic proxy we suggest to learn is the correction factor, i.e. the ratio between the instance-independent cost-to-go estimate and the perfect one (computed offline at the training phase). Unlike learning the absolute values of the cost-to-go heuristic function, which was known before, learning the correction factor utilizes the knowledge of the instance-independent heuristic. The second heuristic proxy is the path probability, which indicates how likely the grid cell is lying on the shortest path. This heuristic can be employed in the Focal Search framework as the secondary heuristic, allowing us to preserve the guarantees on the bounded sub-optimality of the solution. We learn both suggested heuristics in a supervised fashion with the state-of-the-art neural networks containing attention blocks (transformers). We conduct a thorough empirical evaluation on a comprehensive dataset of planning tasks, showing that the suggested techniques i) reduce the computational effort of the A* up to a factor of 4x while producing the solutions, whose costs exceed those of the optimal solutions by less than 0.3% on average; ii) outperform the competitors, which include the conventional techniques from the heuristic search, i.e. weighted A*, as well as the state-of-the-art learnable planners. The project web-page is: https://airi-institute.github.io/TransPath/.

Hyper-heuristics are a domain-independent problem solving approach where the main task is to select effective chains of problem-specific low-level heuristics on the fly for an unseen instance. This task can be seen as a reinforcement learning problem, however, the information available to the hyper-heuristic is very limited, usually leading to very limited state representations. In this work, for the first time we use the trajectory of solution changes for a larger set of features for reinforcement learning in the novel hyper-heuristic LAST-RL (Large-State Reinforcement Learning). Further, we introduce a probability distribution for the exploration case in our epsilon-greedy policy that is based on the idea of Iterated Local Search to increase the chance to sample good chains of low-level heuristics. The benefit of the collaboration of our novel components is shown on the academic benchmark of the Cross Domain Heuristic Challenge 2011 consisting of six different problem domains. Our approach can provide state-of-the-art results on this benchmark where it outperforms recent hyper-heuristics based on reinforcement learning, and also demonstrates high performance on a benchmark of complex real-life personnel scheduling domains.

Machine learning models have liberated manpower greatly in many real-world tasks, but their predictions are still worse than humans on some specific instances. To improve the performance, it is natural to optimize machine learning models to take decisions for most instances while delivering a few tricky instances to humans, resulting in the problem of Human Assisted Learning (HAL). Previous works mainly formulated HAL as a constrained optimization problem that tries to find a limited subset of instances for human decision such that the sum of model and human errors can be minimized; and employed the greedy algorithms, whose performance, however, may be limited due to the greedy nature. In this paper, we propose a new framework HAL-EMO based on Evolutionary Multi-objective Optimization, which reformulates HAL as a bi-objective optimization problem that minimizes the number of selected instances for human decision and the total errors simultaneously, and employs a Multi-Objective Evolutionary Algorithm (MOEA) to solve it. We implement HAL-EMO using two MOEAs, the popular NSGA-II as well as the theoretically grounded GSEMO. We also propose a specific MOEA, called BSEMO, with biased selection and balanced mutation for HAL-EMO, and prove that for human assisted regression and classification, HAL-EMO using BSEMO can achieve better and same theoretical guarantees than previous greedy algorithms, respectively. Experiments on the tasks of medical diagnosis and content moderation show the superiority of HAL-EMO (with either NSGA-II, GSEMO or BSEMO) over previous algorithms, and that using BSEMO leads to the best performance of HAL-EMO.

Black-box optimization (BBO) algorithms are concerned with finding the best solutions for problems with missing analytical details. Most classical methods for such problems are based on strong and fixed a priori assumptions, such as Gaussianity. However, the complex real-world problems, especially when the global optimum is desired, could be very far from the a priori assumptions because of their diversities, causing unexpected obstacles. In this study, we propose a generative adversarial net-based broad-spectrum global optimizer (OPT-GAN) which estimates the distribution of optimum gradually, with strategies to balance exploration-exploitation trade-off. It has potential to better adapt to the regularity and structure of diversified landscapes than other methods with fixed prior, e.g., Gaussian assumption or separability. Experiments on diverse BBO benchmarks and high dimensional real world applications exhibit that OPT-GAN outperforms other traditional and neural net-based BBO algorithms. The code and Appendix are available at https://github.com/NBICLAB/OPT-GAN

The FastMap algorithm has been proposed as an inexpensive metric embedding which provides admissible distance estimates between all vertices in an embedding. As an embedding, it also supports additional operations such as taking the median location of two vertices, which is important in some problems. This paper studies several aspects of FastMap embeddings, showing the relationship of FastMap to general additive heuristics. As an admissible heuristic, FastMap is not as strong as previous suggested. However, by combining FastMap with the ideas of differential heuristics, we can significantly improve the performance of FastMap heuristics. We show the impact of these ideas in both single-agent pathfinding and the Multi-Agent Meeting problem, where the performance of algorithms using our improved FastMap embedding is improved by up to a factor of two.

We present a fully computer-assisted proof system for solving a particular family of problems in Extremal Combinatorics. Existing techniques using Flag Algebras have proven powerful in the past, but have so far lacked a computational counterpart to derive matching constructive bounds. We demonstrate that common search heuristics are capable of finding constructions far beyond the reach of human intuition. Additionally, the most obvious downside of such heuristics, namely a missing guarantee of global optimality, can often be fully eliminated in this case through lower bounds and stability results coming from the Flag Algebra approach. To illustrate the potential of this approach, we study two related and well-known problems in Extremal Graph Theory that go back to questions of Erdős from the 60s. Most notably, we present the first major improvement in the upper bound of the Ramsey multiplicity of K_4 in 25 years, precisely determine the first off-diagonal Ramsey multiplicity number, and settle the minimum number of independent sets of size four in graphs with clique number strictly less than five.

Electrophysiological Source Imaging (ESI) refers to reconstructing the underlying brain source activation from non-invasive Electroencephalography (EEG) and Magnetoencephalography (MEG) measurements on the scalp. Estimating the source locations and their extents is a fundamental tool in clinical and neuroscience applications. However, the estimation is challenging because of the ill-posedness and high coherence in the leadfield matrix as well as the noise in the EEG/MEG data. In this work, we proposed a combinatorial search framework to address the ESI problem with a provable optimality guarantee. Specifically, by exploiting the graph neighborhood information in the brain source space, we converted the ESI problem into a graph search problem and designed a combinatorial search algorithm under the framework of A* to solve it. The proposed algorithm is guaranteed to give an optimal solution to the ESI problem. Experimental results on both synthetic data and real epilepsy EEG data demonstrated that the proposed algorithm could faithfully reconstruct the source activation in the brain.

Submodular maximization has attracted extensive attention due to its numerous applications in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Many real-world problems require maximizing multiple submodular objective functions at the same time. In such cases, a common approach is to select a representative subset of Pareto optimal solutions with different trade-offs among multiple objectives. To this end, in this paper, we investigate the regret ratio minimization (RRM) problem in multi-objective submodular maximization, which aims to find at most k solutions to best approximate all Pareto optimal solutions w.r.t. any linear combination of objective functions. We propose a novel HS-RRM algorithm by transforming RRM into HittingSet problems based on the notions of ε-kernel and δ-net, where any α-approximation algorithm for single-objective submodular maximization is used as an oracle. We improve upon the previous best-known bound on the maximum regret ratio (MRR) of the output of HS-RRM and show that the new bound is nearly asymptotically optimal for any fixed number d of objective functions. Experiments on real-world and synthetic data confirm that HS-RRM achieves lower MRRs than existing algorithms.

Bilevel optimization has been developed for many machine learning tasks with large-scale and high-dimensional data. This paper considers a constrained bilevel optimization problem, where the lower-level optimization problem is convex with equality and inequality constraints and the upper-level optimization problem is non-convex. The overall objective function is non-convex and non-differentiable. To solve the problem, we develop a gradient-based approach, called gradient approximation method, which determines the descent direction by computing several representative gradients of the objective function inside a neighborhood of the current estimate. We show that the algorithm asymptotically converges to the set of Clarke stationary points, and demonstrate the efficacy of the algorithm by the experiments on hyperparameter optimization and meta-learning.

The decomposition-based multi-objective evolutionary algorithm (MOEA/D) transforms a multi-objective optimization problem (MOP) into a set of single-objective subproblems for collaborative optimization. Mismatches between subproblems and solutions can lead to severe performance degradation of MOEA/D. Most existing mismatch coping strategies only work when the L∞ scalarization is used. A mismatch coping strategy that can use any Lp scalarization, even when facing MOPs with non-convex Pareto fronts, is of great significance for MOEA/D. This paper uses the global replacement (GR) as the backbone. We analyze how GR can no longer avoid mismatches when L∞ is replaced by another Lp with p ∈ [1, ∞), and find that the Lp-based (1 ≤ p < ∞) subproblems having inconsistently large preference regions. When p is set to a small value, some middle subproblems have very small preference regions so that their direction vectors cannot pass through their corresponding preference regions. Therefore, we propose a generalized Lp (GLp) scalarization to ensure that the subproblem’s direction vector passes through its preference region. Our theoretical analysis shows that GR can always avoid mismatches when using the GLp scalarization for any p ≥ 1. The experimental studies on various MOPs conform to the theoretical analysis.