Corelab Seminar

Stratis Skoulakis
The Online Min Sum Set Cover

We consider the online Min-Sum Set Cover (MSSC), a natural and intriguing generalization of the classical list update problem. In Online MSSC, the algorithm maintains a permutation on n elements based on subsets S1, S2, ... arriving online. The algorithm serves each set St upon arrival, using its current permutation πt, incurring an access cost equal to the position of the first element of St in πt. Then, the algorithm may update its permutation to πt+1, incurring a moving cost equal to the Kendall tau distance of πt to πt+1. The objective is to minimize the total access and moving cost for serving the entire sequence. We consider the r-uniform version, where each St has cardinality r. List update is the special case where r = 1. We obtain tight bounds on the competitive ratio of deterministic online algorithms for MSSC against a static adversary, that serves the entire sequence by a single permutation. First, we show a lower bound of (r+1)[1-(r/(n+1))] on the competitive ratio. Then, we consider several natural generalizations of successful list update algorithms and show that they fail to achieve any interesting competitive guarantee. On the positive side, we obtain a O(r)-competitive deterministic algorithm using ideas from online learning and the multiplicative weight updates (MWU) algorithm. Furthermore, we consider efficient algorithms. We propose a memoryless online algorithm, called Move-All-Equally, which is inspired by the Double Coverage algorithm for the k-server problem. We show that its competitive ratio is Ω(r2) and 2O( (log n) (log r)  ), and conjecture that it is f(r)-competitive. We also compare Move-All-Equally against the dynamic optimal solution and obtain (almost) tight bounds by showing that it is Ω(r  n  ) and O(r3/2  n  )-competitive.