Optimizer's Information Criterion: Dissecting and Correcting Bias in Data-Driven Optimization

16 Jun 2023  ·  Garud Iyengar, Henry Lam, Tianyu Wang ·

In data-driven optimization, the sample performance of the obtained decision typically incurs an optimistic bias against the true performance, a phenomenon commonly known as the Optimizer's Curse and intimately related to overfitting in machine learning. Common techniques to correct this bias, such as cross-validation, require repeatedly solving additional optimization problems and are therefore computationally expensive. We develop a general bias correction approach, building on what we call Optimizer's Information Criterion (OIC), that directly approximates the first-order bias and does not require solving any additional optimization problems. Our OIC generalizes the celebrated Akaike Information Criterion to evaluate the objective performance in data-driven optimization, which crucially involves not only model fitting but also its interplay with the downstream optimization. As such it can be used for decision selection instead of only model selection. We apply our approach to a range of data-driven optimization formulations comprising empirical and parametric models, their regularized counterparts, and furthermore contextual optimization. Finally, we provide numerical validation on the superior performance of our approach under synthetic and real-world datasets.

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