Learning Mixtures of Random Utility Models


  • Zhibing Zhao Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Tristan Villamil Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Lirong Xia Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute




random utility model (RUM), mixture model, identifiability, EM, generalized method of moments


We tackle the problem of identifiability and efficient learning of mixtures of Random Utility Models (RUMs). We show that when the PDFs of utility distributions are symmetric, the mixture of k RUMs (denoted by k-RUM) is not identifiable when the number of alternatives m is no more than 2k-1. On the other hand, when m ≥ max{4k-2,6}, any k-RUM is generically identifiable. We then propose three algorithms for learning mixtures of RUMs: an EM-based algorithm, which we call E-GMM, a direct generalized-method-of-moments (GMM) algorithm, and a sandwich (GMM-E-GMM) algorithm that combines the other two. Experiments on synthetic data show that the sandwich algorithm achieves the highest statistical efficiency and GMM is the most computationally efficient. Experiments on real-world data at Preflib show that Gaussian k-RUMs provide better fitness than a single Gaussian RUM, the Plackett-Luce model, and mixtures of Plackett-Luce models w.r.t. commonly-used model fitness criteria. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work on learning mixtures of general RUMs.




How to Cite

Zhao, Z., Villamil, T., & Xia, L. (2018). Learning Mixtures of Random Utility Models. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 32(1). https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v32i1.11727