Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)
Maria-Florina F. Balcan, Siddharth Prasad, Tuomas Sandholm, Ellen Vitercik
Cutting-plane methods have enabled remarkable successes in integer programming over the last few decades. State-of-the-art solvers integrate a myriad of cutting-plane techniques to speed up the underlying tree-search algorithm used to find optimal solutions. In this paper we provide sample complexity bounds for cut-selection in branch-and-cut (B&C). Given a training set of integer programs sampled from an application-specific input distribution and a family of cut selection policies, these guarantees bound the number of samples sufficient to ensure that using any policy in the family, the size of the tree B&C builds on average over the training set is close to the expected size of the tree B&C builds. We first bound the sample complexity of learning cutting planes from the canonical family of Chvátal-Gomory cuts. Our bounds handle any number of waves of any number of cuts and are fine tuned to the magnitudes of the constraint coefficients. Next, we prove sample complexity bounds for more sophisticated cut selection policies that use a combination of scoring rules to choose from a family of cuts. Finally, beyond the realm of cutting planes for integer programming, we develop a general abstraction of tree search that captures key components such as node selection and variable selection. For this abstraction, we bound the sample complexity of learning a good policy for building the search tree.