Online Algorithms for Multi-shop Ski Rental with Machine Learned Advice

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Shufan Wang, Jian Li, Shiqiang Wang


We study the problem of augmenting online algorithms with machine learned (ML) advice. In particular, we consider the \emph{multi-shop ski rental} (MSSR) problem, which is a generalization of the classical ski rental problem. In MSSR, each shop has different prices for buying and renting a pair of skis, and a skier has to make decisions on when and where to buy. We obtain both deterministic and randomized online algorithms with provably improved performance when either a single or multiple ML predictions are used to make decisions. These online algorithms have no knowledge about the quality or the prediction error type of the ML prediction. The performance of these online algorithms are robust to the poor performance of the predictors, but improve with better predictions. Extensive experiments using both synthetic and real world data traces verify our theoretical observations and show better performance against algorithms that purely rely on online decision making.