# 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm

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1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Handout : Combinatorial Optimization May 4th, 009 Michel X. Goemans 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm The simplex algorithm was the first algorithm proposed for linear programming, and although the algorithm is quite fast in practice, no variant of it is known to be polynomial time. The Ellipsoid algorithm is the first polynomial-time algorithm discovered for linear programming. The Ellipsoid algorithm was proposed by the Russian mathematician Shor in 1977 for general convex optimization problems, and applied to linear programming by Khachyan in Contrary to the simplex algorithm, the ellipsoid algorithm is not very fast in practice; however, its theoretical polynomiality has important consequences for combinatorial optimization problems as we will see. Another polynomial-time algorithm, or family of algorithms to be more precise, for linear programming is the class of interior-point algorithms that started with Karmarkar s algorithm in 1984; interior-point algorithms are also quite practical but they do not have the same important implications to combinatorial optimization as the ellipsoid algorithm does. The problem being considered by the ellipsoid algorithm is: Given a bounded convex set P R n find x P. We will see that we can reduce linear programming to finding an x in P = {x R n : Cx d}. The ellipsoid algorithm works as follows. We start with a big ellipsoid E that is guaranteed to contain P. We then check if the center of the ellipsoid is in P. If it is, we are done, we found a point in P. Otherwise, we find an inequality c T x d i which is satisfied by all points in P for example, it is explicitly given in the description of P) which is not satisfied by our center. One iteration of the ellipsoid algorithm is illustrated in Figure 7.1. The ellipsoid algorithm is the following. Let E 0 be an ellipsoid containing P while center a k of E k is not in P do: Let c T x c T a k be such that {x : c T x c T a k } P Let E k+1 be the minimum volume ellipsoid containing E k {x : c T x c T a k } k k + 1 The ellipsoid algorithm has the important property that the ellipsoids contructed shrink in volume as the algorithm proceeds; this is stated precisely in the next lemma. This means that if the set P has positive volume, we will eventually find a point in P. We will need to deal with the case when P has no volume i.e. P has just a single point), and also discuss when we can stop and be guaranteed that either we have a point in P or we know that P is empty.

2 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, 009 P a 1 a 0 E 1 E 0 Figure 7.1: One iteration of the ellipsoid algorithm. Lemma 7.1 V ole k+1) V ole k ) < e 1 n+1). Before we can state the algorithm more precisely, we need to define ellipsoids. Definition 7.1 Given a center a, and a positive definite matrix A, the ellipsoid Ea, A) is defined as {x R n : x a) T A 1 x a) 1}. One important fact about a positive definite matrix A is that there exists B such that A = B T B, and hence A 1 = B 1 B 1 ) T. Ellipsoids are in fact just affine transformations of unit spheres. To see this, consider the bijective) affine transformation T : x y = B 1 ) T x a). It maps Ea, A) {y : y T y 1} = E0, I). We first consider the simple case in which the ellipsoid E k is the unit sphere and the inequality we generate is x 1 0. We claim that the ellipsoid containing E k {x : x 1 0} is { ) n + 1 E k+1 = x : x 1 ) } + n 1 n x n n + 1 n i 1. i=

3 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, Indeed, if we consider an x E k {x : x 1 0}, we see that n + 1 n ) x 1 ) + n 1 n + 1 n n + 1 = n + n + 1 x n 1 n n i= = n + x n 1 n + x n n + n 1 n = n + x n 1 x 1 1) + 1 n + n 1 n 1 n + n 1 n 1. x i ) x 1 n n + n 1 n In this specific case, we can prove easily lemma 7.1. Proof: The volume of an ellipsoid is proportional to the product of its side lengths. Hence the ratio between the unit ellipsoid E k and E k+1 is n i=1 n i=1 x i x i n i= x i V ole k+1 ) V ole k = n n ) ) n 1 n+1 n 1 1 ) n n = n + 1 n 1 ) n 1 < e 1 n+1 e n 1 n 1) = e 1 n+1 e 1 n+1) = e 1 n+1), where we have used the fact that 1 + x e x for all x, with strict inequality if x 0. Now consider the slightly more general case in which the ellipsoid is also the unit sphere but we have an arbitrary constraint d T x 0. We want to find an ellipsoid that contains E0, I) {x : d T x 0} we let d = 1; this can be done by scaling both sides), it is easy to verify that we can take E k+1 = E 1 n d, F), where F = I n+1 n 1 n+1 ddt ), and the ratio of the volumes is exp 1 n+1) ). Now we deal with the case where E k is not the unit sphere. We take advantage of the fact that linear transformations preserve ratios of volumes. E k T E0, 1) T 1 E E k+1 Let a k be the center of E k, and c T x c T a k be the halfspace through a k that contains P. Therefore, the half-ellipsoid that we are trying to contain is Ea k, A) {x : c T x c T a k }.

4 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, Let s see what happens to this half-ellipsoid after the transformation T defined by y = Tx) = B 1 ) T x a). This transformation transforms E k = Ea k, A) to E0, I). Also, {x : c T x c T a k } T {y : c T a k + B T y) c T a k } = {y : c T B T y 0} = {y : d T x 0}, ) where d is given by the following equation: Let b = B T d = d = Ac c. This implies: T Ac = E a k 1 E k+1 = E Bc ct B T Bc = n + 1 b, n n 1 BT a k 1 n + 1 b, n n 1 To summarize, here is the Ellipsoid Algorithm: Bc ct Ac. 3) I n + 1 ddt A n + 1 bbt 1. Start with k = 0, E 0 = Ea 0, A 0 ) P, P = {x : Cx d}.. While a k P do: ) ) B 4) )). 5) Let c T x d be an inequality that is valid for all x P but c T a k > d. Let b = A kc c T A k c. Let a k+1 = a k 1 n+1 b. Let A k+1 = n n 1 A k n+1 bbt ). Claim 7. V ole k+1) V ole k ) < exp ) 1 n+1). After k iterations, V ole k ) V ole 0 ) exp k n+1) ). If P is nonempty then the Ellipsoid Algorithm should find x P in at most n + 1) ln V ole 0) steps. V olp) In general, for a full-dimensional polyhedron described as P = {x : Cx d}, one can show that V ole 0) is polynomial in the encoding length for C and d. We will not show this V olp) in general, but we will focus on the most important situation in combinatorial optimization when we are given a set S {0, 1} n not explicitly, but for example as the incidence vectors of all matchings in a graph) and we would like to optimize over P = convs). We will make the assumption that P is full-dimensional; otherwise, one can eliminate one or several variables and obtain a smaller full-dimensional problem.

5 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, From feasibility to Optimization First, let us show how to reduce such an optimization problem to the problem of finding a feasible point in a polytope. Let c T x with c R n be our objective function we would like to minimize over P. Assume without loss of generality that c Z n. Instead of optimizing, we can check the non-emptiness of P = P {x : c T x d + 1 } for d Z and our optimum value corresponds to the smallest such d. As S {0, 1} n, d must range in [ nc max, nc max ] where c max = max i c i. To find d, we can use binary search and check the non-emptiness of P with the ellipsoid algorithm). This will take Olognc max )) = Olog n + log c max ) steps, which is polynomial. Starting Ellipsoid. Now, we need to consider using the ellipsoid to find a feasible point in P or decide that P is empty. As starting ellipsoid, we can use the ball centered at the vector 1, 1,, 1) and of radius 1 n which goes through all {0, 1} n vectors). This ball has volume V ole 0 ) = 1 n) n V olb n n ), where B n is the unit ball. We have that V olb n ) = πn/ Γ n +1), which for the purpose here we can even use the very weak) upper bound of π n/ or even n ). This shows that logv ole 0 )) = On log n). Termination Criterion. We will now argue that if P is non-empty, its volume is not too small. Assume that P is non-empty, say v 0 P {0, 1} n. Our assumption that P is full-dimensional implies that there exists v 1, v,, v n P {0, 1} n = S such that the simplex v 0, v 1,, v n is full-dimensional. The v i s may not be in P. Instead, define w i for i = 1,, n by: w i = { vi if c T v i d + 1 v 0 + αv i v 0 ) otherwise where α = 1 nc max. This implies that w i P as c T w i = c T v 0 + αc T v i v 0 ) d + 1 nc max nc max = d + 1. We have that P contains C = conv{v 0, w 1, w,, w n }) and V olc) is 1 times the volume n! of the parallelipiped spanned by w i v 0 = β i v i v 0 ) with β i {α, 1}) for i = 1,, n. This paralleliped has volume equal to the product of the β i which is at least α n ) times the volume of a parallelipiped with integer vertices, which is at least 1. Thus, V olp ) V olc) = 1 ) n 1. n! nc max Taking logs, we see that the number of iterations of the ellipsoid algorithm before either discovering that P is empty or a feasible point is at most This is polynomial. logv ole 0 )) logv olp )) = On log n + n log c max ).

6 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, Separation Oracle. To run the ellipsoid algorithm, we need to be able to decide, given x R n, whether x P or find a violated inequality. The beauty here is that we do not necessarily need a complete and explicit description of P in terms of linear inequalities. We will see examples in which we can even apply this to exponential-sized descriptions. What we need is a separation oracle for P: Given x R n, either decide that x P or find an inequality a T x b valid for P such that a T x > b. If this separation oracle runs in polynomial-time, we have succeeded in finding the optimum value d when optimizing c T x over P or S). Finding an optimum solution. There is one more issue. This algorithm gives us a point x in P of value at most d + 1 where d is the optimum value. However, we are interested in finding a point x P {0, 1} n = S of value exactly d. This can be done by starting from x and finding any extreme point x of P such that c T x c T x. Details are omitted. In summary, we obtain the following important theorem shown by Grötschel, Lovász and Schrijver, Theorem 7.3 Let S = {0, 1} n and P = convs). Assume that P is full-dimensional and we are given a separation oracle for P. Then, given c Z n, one can find min{c T x : x S} by the ellipsoid algorithm by using a polynomial number of operations and calls to the separation oracle. To be more precise, the number of iterations of the ellipsoid algorithm for the above application is On log n + n log c max ), each iteration requiring a call to the separation oracle and a polynomial number of operations rank-1 updates of the matrix A, etc.). Here are two brief descriptions of combinatorial optimization problems that can be solved with this approach. Minimum Cost Arborescence Problem. We have seen a combinatorial algorithm to solve the minimum cost arborescence problem, and it relied on solving by a primal-dual method the linear program: LP = min a A c a x a P) subject to: x a 1 S V \ {r} a δ S) x a 0 a A. Instead, we could use the ellipsoid algorithm to directly solve this linear program in polynomialtime. Indeed, even though this linear program has an exponential number of constraints in the size of the graph), a separation oracle for it can be easily defined. Indeed consider x. If x a < 0 for some a A, just return the inequality x a 0. Otherwise, for every t V \ {r},

7 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, consider the minimum r t cut problem in which the capacity on arc a is given by x a. As we have seen, this can be solved by maximum flow computations. If for some t V \ {r}, the minimum r t cut has value less than 1 then we have found a violated inequality by x. Otherwise, we have that x P. Our separation oracle can thus be implemented by doing V 1 maximum flow computations, and hence is polynomial. We are done. Maximum Weight Matching Problem. For the maximum weight matching problem in a general graph G = V, E), Edmonds has shown that the convex hull of all matchings is given by: x e S 1 S V, S odd e ES) x e 1 v V 6) e δv) x e 0 e E. Given x, we can easily check if x is nonnegative and if the n constraints e δv) x e 1 are satisfied. There is an exponential number of remaining constraints, but we will show now that they can be checked by doing a sequence of minimum cut computations. Assume x 0 satisfies e δv) x e 1 for every v V, and we would like to decide if e ES) x e S 1 for all S V, S odd, and if not produce such a violated set S. We can assume without loss of generality that V is even otherwise, simply add a vertex). Let s v = 1 x e, e δv) for all v V. Observe that e ES) x e S 1 is equivalent to s v + x e 1. v S e δs) Define a new graph H, whose vertex set is V {u} where u is a new vertex) and whose edge set is E {u, v) : v V }. In this new graph, let the capacity u e of an edge be x e if e E or s v for e = u, v). Observe that in this graph, s v + x e 1 v S e δs) if and only if e δ H S) u e 1,

8 7. Lecture notes on the ellipsoid algorithm May 4th, where δ H S) are the edges of H with one endpoint in S. Thus, to solve our separation problem, it is enough to be able to find the minimum cut in H among all the cuts defined by sets S with S V, S odd. This is a special case of the minimum T-odd cut problem seen previously. If the minimum T-odd cut problem returns a minimum cut of value greater or equal to 1, we know that all inequalities are satisfied; otherwise, a minimum T-odd cut provides a violated inequality.

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