Jul 12, 2020
Integer programming is a general optimization framework with a wide variety of applications, e.g., in scheduling, production planning, and graph optimization. As Integer Programs (IPs) model many provably hard to solve problems, modern IP solvers rely on heuristics. These heuristics are often human-designed, and tuned over time using experience and data. The goal of this work is to show that the performance of those solvers can be greatly enhanced using reinforcement learning (RL). In particular, we investigate a specific methodology for solving IPs, known as the Cutting Plane Method. This method is employed as a subroutine by all modern IP solvers. We present a deep RL formulation, network architecture, and algorithms for intelligent adaptive selection of cutting planes (aka cuts). Across a wide range of IP tasks, we show that our trained RL agent significantly outperforms human-designed heuristics, and effectively generalizes to larger instances and across IP problem classes. The trained agent is also demonstrated to benefit the popular downstream application of cutting plane methods in Branch-and-Cut algorithm, which is the backbone of state-of-the-art commercial IP solvers.
The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.
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