IEOR - Designing a More Efficient World

Machine Learning and Data Mining with Combinatorial Optimization Algorithms

Publication Date: October 19, 2018

Dorit S. Hochbaum. Machine Learning and Data Mining with Combinatorial Optimization Algorithms. Tutorials in Operations Research, pages 109-129. INFORMS, 2018. Available online.


Binary classification is a fundamental machine learning task defined as correctly assigning new objects to one of two groups based on a set of training objects. Driven by the practical importance of binary classification, numerous machine learning techniques have been developed and refined over the last three decades. Among the most popular techniques are artificial neural networks, decision trees, ensemble methods, logistic regression, and support vector machines. We present here machine learning and pattern recognition algorithms that, unlike the commonly used techniques, are based on combinatorial optimization and make use of information on pairwise relations between the objects of the data set, whether training objects or not. These algorithms solve the respective problems optimally and efficiently, in contrast to the primarily heuristic approaches currently used for intractable problem models in pattern recognition and machine learning. The algorithms described solve efficiently the classification problem as a network flow problem on
a graph. The technical tools used in the algorithm are the parametric cut procedure and a process called sparse computation that computes only the pairwise similarities that are “relevant.” Sparse computation enables the scalability of any algorithm that uses pairwise similarities. We present evidence on the effectiveness of the approaches, measured in terms of accuracy and running time, in pattern recognition, image segmentation, and general data mining.