Maximizing a Submodular Function with Bounded Curvature Under an Unknown Knapsack Constraint

Authors Max Klimm, Martin Knaack

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Author Details

Max Klimm
  • Institute for Mathematics, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
Martin Knaack
  • Institute for Mathematics, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany


The authors wish to thank Daniel Schmidt genannt Waldschmidt for fruitful discussion.

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Max Klimm and Martin Knaack. Maximizing a Submodular Function with Bounded Curvature Under an Unknown Knapsack Constraint. In Approximation, Randomization, and Combinatorial Optimization. Algorithms and Techniques (APPROX/RANDOM 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 245, pp. 49:1-49:19, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


This paper studies the problem of maximizing a monotone submodular function under an unknown knapsack constraint. A solution to this problem is a policy that decides which item to pack next based on the past packing history. The robustness factor of a policy is the worst case ratio of the solution obtained by following the policy and an optimal solution that knows the knapsack capacity. We develop an algorithm with a robustness factor that is decreasing in the curvature c of the submodular function. For the extreme cases c = 0 corresponding to a modular objective, it matches a previously known and best possible robustness factor of 1/2. For the other extreme case of c = 1 it yields a robustness factor of ≈ 0.35 improving over the best previously known robustness factor of ≈ 0.06.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Submodular optimization and polymatroids
  • Theory of computation → Packing and covering problems
  • Theory of computation → Online algorithms
  • submodular function
  • knapsack
  • approximation algorithm
  • robust optimization


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