E. Cohen, G. Cormode, N. Duffield, and C. Lund. On the tradeoff between stability and fit. ACM Transactions on Algorithms, 13(1), 2016.

In computing, as in many aspects of life, changes incur cost. Many optimization problems are formulated as a one-time instance starting from scratch. However, a common case that arises is when we already have a set of prior assignments and must decide how to respond to a new set of constraints, given that each change from the current assignment comes at a price. That is, we would like to maximize the fitness or efficiency of our system, but we need to balance it with the changeout cost from the previous state.

We provide a precise formulation for this tradeoff and analyze the resulting stable extensions of some fundamental problems in measurement and analytics. Our main technical contribution is a stable extension of Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) weighted random sampling, with applications to monitoring and anomaly detection problems. We also provide a general framework that applies to top-k, minimum spanning tree, and assignment. In both cases, we are able to provide exact solutions and discuss efficient incremental algorithms that can find new solutions as the input changes.

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