A dynamic programming approach to segmented isotonic regression

This paper proposes a polynomial-time algorithm to construct the monotone stepwise curve that minimizes the sum of squared errors with respect to a given cloud of data points. The fitted curve is also constrained on the maximum number of steps it can be composed of and on the minimum step length. Our algorithm relies on dynamic programming and is built on the basis that said curve-fitting task can be tackled as a shortest-path type of problem. To ease the computational burden of the proposed algorithm, we develop various strategies to efficiently calculate upper and lower bounds that substantially reduce the number of paths to be explored. These bounds are obtained by combining relaxations of the original problem, clustering techniques and the well-known and well understood isotonic regression fit. Numerical results on synthetic and realistic data sets reveal that our algorithm is able to provide the globally optimal monotone stepwise curve fit for samples with thousands of data points in less than a few hours. Furthermore, the algorithm gives a certificate on the optimality gap of any incumbent solution it generates. From a practical standpoint, this piece of research is motivated by the roll-out of smart grids and the increasing role played by the small flexible consumption of electricity in the large-scale integration of renewable energy sources into current power systems. Within this context, our algorithm constitutes an useful tool to generate bidding curves for a pool of small flexible consumers to partake in wholesale electricity markets.



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