Balancing Relevance and Diversity in Online Bipartite Matching via Submodularity
In bipartite matching problems, vertices on one side of a bipartite graph are paired with those on the other. In its online variant, one side of the graph is available offline, while the vertices on the other side arrive online. When a vertex arrives, an irrevocable and immediate decision should be made by the algorithm; either match it to an available vertex or drop it. Examples of such problems include matching workers to firms, advertisers to keywords, organs to patients, and so on. Much of the literature focuses on maximizing the total relevance—modeled via total weight—of the matching. However, in many real-world problems, it is also important to consider contributions of diversity: hiring a diverse pool of candidates, displaying a relevant but diverse set of ads, and so on. In this paper, we propose the Online Submodular Bipartite Matching (OSBM) problem, where the goal is to maximize a submodular function f over the set of matched edges. This objective is general enough to capture the notion of both diversity (e.g., a weighted coverage function) and relevance (e.g., the traditional linear function)—as well as many other natural objective functions occurring in practice (e.g., limited total budget in advertising settings). We propose novel algorithms that have provable guarantees and are essentially optimal when restricted to various special cases. We also run experiments on real-world and synthetic datasets to validate our algorithms.