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The spread of an epidemic is often modeled by an SIR random process on a social network graph. The MinINF problem for optimal social distancing involves minimizing the expected number of infections, when we are allowed to break at most $B$ edges; similarly the MinINFNode problem involves removing at most $B$ vertices. These are fundamental problems in epidemiology and network science. While a number of heuristics have been considered, the complexity of these problems remains generally open. In this paper, we present two bicriteria approximation algorithms for MinINF, which give the first non-trivial approximations for this problem. The first is based on the cut sparsification result of Karger \cite{karger:mathor99}, and works when the transmission probabilities are not too small. The second is a Sample Average Approximation (SAA) based algorithm, which we analyze for the Chung-Lu random graph model. We also extend some of our results to tackle the MinINFNode problem.

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A recent line of research investigates how algorithms can be augmented with machine-learned predictions to overcome worst case lower bounds. This area has revealed interesting algorithmic insights into problems, with particular success in the design of competitive online algorithms. However, the question of improving algorithm running times with predictions has largely been unexplored. We take a first step in this direction by combining the idea of machine-learned predictions with the idea of "warm-starting" primal-dual algorithms. We consider one of the most important primitives in combinatorial optimization: weighted bipartite matching and its generalization to $b$-matching. We identify three key challenges when using learned dual variables in a primal-dual algorithm. First, predicted duals may be infeasible, so we give an algorithm that efficiently maps predicted infeasible duals to nearby feasible solutions. Second, once the duals are feasible, they may not be optimal, so we show that they can be used to quickly find an optimal solution. Finally, such predictions are useful only if they can be learned, so we show that the problem of learning duals for matching has low sample complexity. We validate our theoretical findings through experiments on both real and synthetic data. As a result we give a rigorous, practical, and empirically effective method to compute bipartite matchings.

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Amy Babay, Michael Dinitz, Prathyush Sambaturu, Aravind Srinivasan, Leonidas Tsepenekas, Anil Vullikanti

Graph cut problems form a fundamental problem type in combinatorial optimization, and are a central object of study in both theory and practice. In addition, the study of fairness in Algorithmic Design and Machine Learning has recently received significant attention, with many different notions proposed and analyzed in a variety of contexts. In this paper we initiate the study of fairness for graph cut problems by giving the first fair definitions for them, and subsequently we demonstrate appropriate algorithmic techniques that yield a rigorous theoretical analysis. Specifically, we incorporate two different definitions of fairness, namely demographic and probabilistic individual fairness, in a particular cut problem modeling disaster containment scenarios. Our results include a variety of approximation algorithms with provable theoretical guarantees.

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The notion of \emph{policy regret} in online learning is a well defined? performance measure for the common scenario of adaptive adversaries, which more traditional quantities such as external regret do not take into account. We revisit the notion of policy regret and first show that there are online learning settings in which policy regret and external regret are incompatible: any sequence of play that achieves a favorable regret with respect to one definition must do poorly with respect to the other. We then focus on the game-theoretic setting where the adversary is a self-interested agent. In that setting, we show that external regret and policy regret are not in conflict and, in fact, that a wide class of algorithms can ensure a favorable regret with respect to both definitions, so long as the adversary is also using such an algorithm. We also show that the sequence of play of no-policy regret algorithms converges to a \emph{policy equilibrium}, a new notion of equilibrium that we introduce. Relating this back to external regret, we show that coarse correlated equilibria, which no-external regret players converge to, are a strict subset of policy equilibria. Thus, in game-theoretic settings, every sequence of play with no external regret also admits no policy regret, but the converse does not hold.

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