Approximating a RUM from Distributions on k-Slates

Flavio Chierichetti, Mirko Giacchini, Ravi Kumar, Alessandro Panconesi, Andrew Tomkins

In this work we consider the problem of fitting Random Utility Models (RUMs) to user choices. Given the winner distributions of the subsets of size $k$ of a universe, we obtain a polynomial-time algorithm that finds the RUM that best approximates the given distribution on average. Our algorithm is based on a linear program that we solve using the ellipsoid method. Given that its corresponding separation oracle problem is NP-hard, we devise an approximate separation oracle that can be viewed as a generalization of the weighted feedback arc set problem to hypergraphs. Our theoretical result can also be made practical: we obtain a heuristic that is effective and scales to real-world datasets.

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