How to use Machine Learning for Combinatorial Optimization? Research Directions and Case Studies.
Abstract: Combinatorial optimization methods are routinely used in many scientific fields to identify optimal solutions among a large but finite set of possible solutions for problems of interests. Given the recent success of machine learning techniques in classification of natural signals (e.g., voice, image, text), it is natural to ask how machine learning methods can be used to improve the quality of solution or the runtime of combinatorial optimization algorithms? In this talk I will provide a general taxonomy and research directions for the use of machine learning techniques in combinatorial optimization. I will illustrate these directions using a number of case studies from my group’s research, which include (1) improving the quality of results of integer linear programming (ILP) solver using deep metric learning, and (2) using reinforcement learning techniques to optimize the size of graphs arising in digital circuit design.