Events Fall 2016

Open Lecture — Application-Specific Algorithm Selection

Monday, Oct 24, 2016 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm 

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Tim Roughgarden (Stanford University) 

The best algorithm for a computational problem generally depends on the "relevant inputs," a concept that depends on the application domain and often defies formal articulation.  While there is a large literature on empirical approaches to selecting the best algorithm for a given application domain, there has been surprisingly little theoretical analysis of the problem.

We adapt concepts from statistical and online learning theory to reason about application-specific algorithm selection. Our models are straightforward to understand, but also expressive enough to capture several existing approaches in the theoretical computer science and AI communities, ranging from self-improving algorithms to empirical performance models.  We present one framework that models algorithm selection as a statistical learning problem, and our work here shows that dimension notions from statistical learning theory, historically used to measure the complexity of classes of binary- and real-valued functions, are relevant in a much broader algorithmic context.  We also study the online version of the algorithm selection problem, and give possibility and impossibility results for the existence of no-regret learning algorithms.

Light refreshments will be served before the lecture at 3:30 p.m.