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Learning to Search in Branch and Bound Algorithms
He He · Hal Daumé III · Jason Eisner

Wed Dec 10 04:00 PM -- 08:59 PM (PST) @ Level 2, room 210D #None

Branch-and-bound is a widely used method in combinatorial optimization, including mixed integer programming, structured prediction and MAP inference. While most work has been focused on developing problem-specific techniques, little is known about how to systematically design the node searching strategy on a branch-and-bound tree. We address the key challenge of learning an adaptive node searching order for any class of problem solvable by branch-and-bound. Our strategies are learned by imitation learning. We apply our algorithm to linear programming based branch-and-bound for solving mixed integer programs (MIP). We compare our method with one of the fastest open-source solvers, SCIP; and a very efficient commercial solver, Gurobi. We demonstrate that our approach achieves better solutions faster on four MIP libraries.

Author Information

He He (Stanford)
Hal Daumé III (Microsoft Research & University of Maryland)

Hal Daumé III wields a professor appointment in Computer Science and Language Science at the University of Maryland, and spends time as a principal researcher in the machine learning group and fairness group at Microsoft Research in New York City. He and his wonderful advisees study questions related to how to get machines to become more adept at human language, by developing models and algorithms that allow them to learn from data. The two major questions that really drive their research these days are: (1) how can we get computers to learn language through natural interaction with people/users? and (2) how can we do this in a way that promotes fairness, transparency and explainability in the learned models?

Jason Eisner (Johns Hopkins + Microsoft)

Jason Eisner is Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University, as well as Director of Research at Microsoft Semantic Machines. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics. At Johns Hopkins, he is also affiliated with the Center for Language and Speech Processing, the Machine Learning Group, the Cognitive Science Department, and the national Center of Excellence in Human Language Technology. His goal is to develop the probabilistic modeling, inference, and learning techniques needed for a unified model of all kinds of linguistic structure. His 135+ papers have presented various algorithms for parsing, machine translation, and weighted finite-state machines; formalizations, algorithms, theorems, and empirical results in computational phonology; and unsupervised or semi-supervised learning methods for syntax, morphology, and word-sense disambiguation. He is also the lead designer of Dyna, a new declarative programming language that provides an infrastructure for AI research. He has received two school-wide awards for excellence in teaching, as well as recent Best Paper Awards at ACL 2017 and EMNLP 2019.

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