A Surrogate Objective Framework for Prediction+Programming with Soft Constraints

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Kai Yan, Jie Yan, Chuan Luo, Liting Chen, Qingwei Lin, Dongmei Zhang


Prediction+optimization is a common real-world paradigm where we have to predict problem parameters before solving the optimization problem. However, the criteria by which the prediction model is trained are often inconsistent with the goal of the downstream optimization problem. Recently, decision-focused prediction approaches, such as SPO+ and direct optimization, have been proposed to fill this gap. However, they cannot directly handle the soft constraints with the max operator required in many real-world objectives. This paper proposes a novel analytically differentiable surrogate objective framework for real-world linear and semi-definite negative quadratic programming problems with soft linear and non-negative hard constraints. This framework gives the theoretical bounds on constraints’ multipliers, and derives the closed-form solution with respect to predictive parameters and thus gradients for any variable in the problem. We evaluate our method in three applications extended with soft constraints: synthetic linear programming, portfolio optimization, and resource provisioning, demonstrating that our method outperforms traditional two-staged methods and other decision-focused approaches