Proceedings of Machine Learning ResearchProceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory
Held in Virtual Conference, Worldwide on 16-19 March 2021
Published as Volume 132 by the Proceedings of Machine Learning Research on 01 March 2021.
Volume Edited by:
Vitaly Feldman
Katrina Ligett
Sivan Sabato
Series Editors:
Neil D. Lawrence
Mark Reid
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/
Fri, 20 Aug 2021 06:31:35 +0000Fri, 20 Aug 2021 06:31:35 +0000Jekyll v3.9.0Non-uniform Consistency of Online Learning with Random Sampling We study the problem of online learning a hypothesis class and a given binary 0-1 loss function, using instances generated $i.i.d.$ by a given distribution. The goal of the online learner is to make only finitely many errors (loss 1) with probability $1$ in the infinite horizon. In the binary label case, we show that hypothesis classes are online learnable in the above sense if and only if the class is effectively countable. We extend the results to hypothesis classes where labels can be non-binary. Characterization of non-binary online learnable classes is more involved for general loss functions and is not captured fully by the countability condition even for the ternary label case. In the computational bounded setup, we compare our results with well known results in recursive function learning, showing that the class of all total computable functions is indeed learnable with computable online learners and randomized sampling. Finally, we also show that the finite error guarantee will not be affected even when independent noise is added to the label.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/wu21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/wu21a.htmlExponential Lower Bounds for Planning in MDPs With Linearly-Realizable Optimal Action-Value FunctionsWe consider the problem of local planning in fixed-horizon and discounted Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) with linear function approximation and a generative model under the assumption that the optimal action-value function lies in the span of a feature map that is available to the planner. Previous work has left open the question of whether there exist sound planners that need only $\mbox{poly}(H,d)$ queries regardless of the MDP, where $H$ is the horizon and $d$ is the dimensionality of the features. We answer this question in the negative: we show that any sound planner must query at least $\min(e^{\Omega(d)},\Omega(2^H))$ samples in the fized-horizon setting and $e^{\Omega(d)}$ samples in the discounted setting. We also show that for any $\delta>0$, the least-squares value iteration algorithm with $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(H^5 d^{H+1}/\delta^2)$ queries can compute a $\delta$-optimal policy in the fixed-horizon setting. We discuss implications and remaining open questions.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/weisz21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/weisz21a.htmlA case where a spindly two-layer linear network decisively outperforms any neural network with a fully connected input layerIt was conjectured that any neural network of any structure and arbitrary differentiable transfer functions at the nodes cannot learn the following problem sample efficiently when trained with gradient descent: The instances are the rows of a $d$-dimensional Hadamard matrix and the target is one of the features, i.e. very sparse. We essentially prove this conjecture: We show that after receiving a random training set of size $k < d$, the expected squared loss is still $1-\frac{k}{(d-1)}$. The only requirement needed is that the input layer is fully connected and the initial weight vectors of the input nodes are chosen from a rotation invariant distribution. Surprisingly the same type of problem can be solved drastically more efficient by a simple 2-layer linear neural network in which the $d$ inputs are connected to the output node by chains of length 2 (Now the input layer has only one edge per input). When such a network is trained by gradient descent, then it has been shown that its expected squared loss is $\frac{\log d}{k}$. Our lower bounds essentially show that a sparse input layer is needed to sample efficiently learn sparse targets with gradient descent.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/warmuth21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/warmuth21a.htmlEstimating Smooth GLM in Non-interactive Local Differential Privacy Model with Public Unlabeled DataIn this paper, we study the problem of estimating smooth Generalized Linear Models (GLM) in the Non-interactive Local Differential Privacy (NLDP) model. Different from its classical setting, our model allows the server to access some additional public but unlabeled data. By using Stein’s lemma and its variants, we first show that there is an $(\epsilon, \delta)$-NLDP algorithm for GLM (under some mild assumptions), if each data record is i.i.d sampled from some sub-Gaussian distribution with bounded $\ell_1$-norm. Then with high probability, the sample complexity of the public and private data, for the algorithm to achieve an $\alpha$ estimation error (in $\ell_\infty$-norm), is $O(p^2\alpha^{-2})$ and ${O}(p^2\alpha^{-2}\epsilon^{-2})$, respectively, if $\alpha$ is not too small ({\em i.e.,} $\alpha\geq \Omega(\frac{1}{\sqrt{p}})$), where $p$ is the dimensionality of the data. This is a significant improvement over the previously known exponential or quasi-polynomial in $\alpha^{-1}$, or exponential in $p$ sample complexity of GLM with no public data. We then extend our idea to the non-linear regression problem and show a similar phenomenon for it. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithms through experiments on both synthetic and real world datasets. To our best knowledge, this is the first paper showing the existence of efficient and effective algorithms for GLM and non-linear regression in the NLDP model with public unlabeled data. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/wang21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/wang21a.htmlContrastive learning, multi-view redundancy, and linear modelsSelf-supervised learning is an empirically successful approach to unsupervised learning based on creating artificial supervised learning problems. A popular self-supervised approach to representation learning is contrastive learning, which leverages naturally occurring pairs of similar and dissimilar data points, or multiple views of the same data. This work provides a theoretical analysis of contrastive learning in the multi-view setting, where two views of each datum are available. The main result is that linear functions of the learned representations are nearly optimal on downstream prediction tasks whenever the two views provide redundant information about the label.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/tosh21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/tosh21a.htmlSample Complexity Bounds for Stochastic Shortest Path with a Generative ModelWe consider the objective of computing an $\epsilon$-optimal policy in a stochastic shortest path (SSP) setting, provided that we can access a generative sampling oracle. We propose two algorithms for this setting and derive PAC bounds on their sample complexity: one for the case of positive costs and the other for the case of non-negative costs under a restricted optimality criterion. While tight sample complexity bounds have been derived for the finite-horizon and discounted MDPs, the SSP problem is a strict generalization of these settings and it poses additional technical challenges due to the fact that no specific time horizon is prescribed and policies may never terminate, i.e., we are possibly facing non-proper policies. As a consequence, we can neither directly apply existing techniques minimizing sample complexity nor rely on a regret-to-PAC conversion leveraging recent regret bounds for SSP. Our analysis instead combines SSP-specific tools and variance reduction techniques to obtain the first sample complexity bounds for this setting.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/tarbouriech21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/tarbouriech21a.htmlSelf-Tuning Bandits over Unknown Covariate-ShiftsBandits with covariates, a.k.a. \emph{contextual bandits}, address situations where optimal actions (or arms) at a given time $t$, depend on a \emph{context} $x_t$, e.g., a new patient’s medical history, a consumer’s past purchases. While it is understood that the distribution of contexts might change over time, e.g., due to seasonalities, or deployment to new environments, the bulk of studies concern the most adversarial such changes, resulting in regret bounds that are often worst-case in nature. \emph{Covariate-shift} on the other hand has been considered in classification as a middle-ground formalism that can capture mild to relatively severe changes in distributions. We consider nonparametric bandits under such middle-ground scenarios, and derive new regret bounds that tightly capture a continuum of changes in context distribution. Furthermore, we show that these rates can be \emph{adaptively} attained without knowledge of the time of shift (change point) nor the amount of shift.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/suk21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/suk21a.htmlAttribute-Efficient Learning of Halfspaces with Malicious Noise: Near-Optimal Label Complexity and Noise ToleranceThis paper is concerned with computationally efficient learning of homogeneous sparse halfspaces in $\mathbb{R}^d$ under noise. Though recent works have established attribute-efficient learning algorithms under various types of label noise (e.g. bounded noise), it remains an open question of when and how $s$-sparse halfspaces can be efficiently learned under the challenging {\em malicious noise} model, where an adversary may corrupt both the unlabeled examples and the labels. We answer this question in the affirmative by designing a computationally efficient active learning algorithm with near-optimal label complexity of $\tilde{O}(s \log^4\frac{d}{\epsilon})$ and noise tolerance $\eta = \Omega(\epsilon)$, where $\epsilon \in (0, 1)$ is the target error rate, under the assumption that the distribution over (uncorrupted) unlabeled examples is isotropic log-concave. Our algorithm can be straightforwardly tailored to the passive learning setting, and we show that the sample complexity is $\tilde{O}(\frac{1}{\epsilon}s^2 \log^5 d)$ which also enjoys attribute efficiency. Our main techniques include attribute-efficient paradigms for soft outlier removal and for empirical risk minimization, and a new analysis of uniform concentration for unbounded instances – all of them crucially take the sparsity structure of the underlying halfspace into account.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/shen21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/shen21a.htmlStatistical guarantees for generative models without dominationIn this paper, we introduce a convenient framework for studying (adversarial) generative models from a statistical perspective. It consists in modeling the generative device as a smooth transformation of the unit hypercube of a dimension that is much smaller than that of the ambient space and measuring the quality of the generative model by means of an integral probability metric. In the particular case of integral probability metric defined through a smoothness class, we establish a risk bound quantifying the role of various parameters. In particular, it clearly shows the impact of dimension reduction on the error of the generative model.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/schreuder21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/schreuder21a.htmlOnline Learning of Facility LocationsIn this paper, we provide a rigorous theoretical investigation of an online learning version of the Facility Location problem which is motivated by emerging problems in real-world applications. In our formulation, we are given a set of sites and an online sequence of user requests. At each trial, the learner selects a subset of sites and then incurs a cost for each selected site and an additional cost which is the price of the user’s connection to the nearest site in the selected subset. The problem may be solved by an application of the well-known Hedge algorithm. This would, however, require time and space exponential in the number of the given sites, which motivates our design of a novel quasi-linear time algorithm for this problem, with good theoretical guarantees on its performance.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/pasteris21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/pasteris21a.htmlUncertainty quantification using martingales for misspecified Gaussian processesWe address uncertainty quantification for Gaussian processes (GPs) under misspecified priors, with an eye towards Bayesian Optimization (BO). GPs are widely used in BO because they easily enable exploration based on posterior uncertainty bands. However, this convenience comes at the cost of robustness: a typical function encountered in practice is unlikely to have been drawn from the data scientist’s prior, in which case uncertainty estimates can be misleading, and the resulting exploration can be suboptimal. We present a frequentist approach to GP/BO uncertainty quantification. We utilize the GP framework as a working model, but do not assume correctness of the prior. We instead construct a \emph{confidence sequence} (CS) for the unknown function using martingale techniques. There is a necessary cost to achieving robustness: if the prior was correct, posterior GP bands are narrower than our CS. Nevertheless, when the prior is wrong, our CS is statistically valid and empirically outperforms standard GP methods, in terms of both coverage and utility for BO. Additionally, we demonstrate that powered likelihoods provide robustness against model misspecification.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/neiswanger21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/neiswanger21a.htmlDescent-to-Delete: Gradient-Based Methods for Machine UnlearningWe study the data deletion problem for convex models. By leveraging techniques from convex optimization and reservoir sampling, we give the first data deletion algorithms that are able to handle an arbitrarily long sequence of adversarial updates while promising both per-deletion run-time and steady-state error that do not grow with the length of the update sequence. We also introduce several new conceptual distinctions: for example, we can ask that after a deletion, the entire state maintained by the optimization algorithm is statistically indistinguishable from the state that would have resulted had we retrained, or we can ask for the weaker condition that only the observable output is statistically indistinguishable from the observable output that would have resulted from retraining. We are able to give more efficient deletion algorithms under this weaker deletion criterion.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/neel21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/neel21a.htmlUnexpected Effects of Online no-Substitution $k$-means ClusteringOffline $k$-means clustering was studied extensively, and algorithms with a constant approximation are available. However, online clustering is still uncharted. New factors come into play: the ordering of the dataset and whether the number of points, $n$, is known in advance or not. Their exact effects are unknown. In this paper we focus on the online setting where the decisions are irreversible: after a point arrives, the algorithm needs to decide whether to take the point as a center or not, and this decision is final. How many centers are needed and sufficient to achieve constant approximation in this setting? We show upper and lower bounds for all the different cases. These bounds are exactly the same up to a constant, thus achieving optimal bounds. For example, for $k$-means cost with constant $k>1$ and random order, $\Theta(\log n)$ centers are enough to achieve a constant approximation, while the mere a priori knowledge of $n$ reduces the number of centers to a constant. These bounds hold for any distance function that obeys a triangle-type inequality.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/moshkovitz21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/moshkovitz21a.htmlLearning with Comparison Feedback: Online Estimation of Sample StatisticsWe study an online version of the noisy binary search problem where feedback is generated by a non-stochastic adversary rather than perturbed by random noise. We reframe this as maintaining an accurate estimate for the median of an adversarial sequence of integers, $x_1, x_2, …$, in a model where each number $x_t$ can only be accessed through a single threshold query of the form ${1(x_t \leq q_t)}$. In this online comparison feedback model, we explore estimation of general sample statistics, providing robust algorithms for median, CDF, and mean estimation with nearly matching lower bounds. We conclude with several high-dimensional generalizations.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/meister21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/meister21a.htmlAdaptive Reward-Free ExplorationReward-free exploration is a reinforcement learning setting recently studied by (Jin et al. 2020), who address it by running several algorithms with regret guarantees in parallel. In our work, we instead propose a more natural adaptive approach for reward-free exploration which directly reduces upper bounds on the maximum MDP estimation error. We show that, interestingly, our reward-free UCRL algorithm can be seen as a variant of an algorithm by Fiechter from 1994, originally proposed for a different objective that we call best-policy identification. We prove that RF-UCRL needs of order (SAH^4/\epsilon^2)(log(1/\delta) + S) episodes to output, with probability 1-\delta, an \epsilon-approximation of the optimal policy for any reward function. This bound improves over existing sample complexity bounds in both the small \epsilon and the small \delta regimes. We further investigate the relative complexities of reward-free exploration and best policy identification. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/kaufmann21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/kaufmann21a.htmlEfficient Learning with Arbitrary Covariate ShiftWe give an efficient algorithm for learning a binary function in a given class $C$ of bounded VC dimension, with training data distributed according to $P$ and test data according to $Q$, where $P$ and $Q$ may be arbitrary distributions over $X$. This is the generic form of what is called \textit{covariate shift}, which is impossible in general as arbitrary $P$ and $Q$ may not even overlap. However, recently guarantees were given in a model called PQ-learning (Goldwasser et al., 2020) where the learner has: (a) access to unlabeled test examples from $Q$ (in addition to labeled samples from $P$, i.e., semi-supervised learning); and (b) the option to \textit{reject} any example and abstain from classifying it (i.e., selective classification). The algorithm of Goldwasser et al. (2020) requires an (agnostic) noise-tolerant learner for $C$. The present work gives a polynomial-time PQ-learning algorithm, called \textit{Slice-and-Dice}, that uses an oracle to a “reliable” learner for $C$, where reliable learning (Kalai et al., 2012) is a model of learning with one-sided noise. Furthermore, this reduction is optimal in the sense that we show the equivalence of reliable and PQ learning.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/kalai21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/kalai21a.htmlEfficient Pure Exploration for Combinatorial Bandits with Semi-Bandit FeedbackCombinatorial bandits with semi-bandit feedback generalize multi-armed bandits, where the agent chooses sets of arms and observes a noisy reward for each arm contained in the chosen set. The action set satisfies a given structure such as forming a base of a matroid or a path in a graph. We focus on the pure-exploration problem of identifying the best arm with fixed confidence, as well as a more general setting, where the structure of the answer set differs from the one of the action set. Using the recently popularized game framework, we interpret this problem as a sequential zero-sum game and develop a CombGame meta-algorithm whose instances are asymptotically optimal algorithms with finite time guarantees. In addition to comparing two families of learners to instantiate our meta-algorithm, the main contribution of our work is a specific oracle efficient instance for best-arm identification with combinatorial actions. Based on a projection-free online learning algorithm for convex polytopes, it is the first computationally efficient algorithm which is asymptotically optimal and has competitive empirical performance.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/jourdan21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/jourdan21a.htmlCharacterizing the implicit bias via a primal-dual analysis This paper shows that the implicit bias of gradient descent on linearly separable data is exactly characterized by the optimal solution of a dual optimization problem given by a smoothed margin, even for general losses. This is in contrast to prior results, which are often tailored to exponentially-tailed losses. For the exponential loss specifically, with $n$ training examples and $t$ gradient descent steps, our dual analysis further allows us to prove an $O\del{\ln(n)/\ln(t)}$ convergence rate to the $\ell_2$ maximum margin direction, when a constant step size is used. This rate is tight in both $n$ and $t$, which has not been presented by prior work. On the other hand, with a properly chosen but aggressive step size schedule, we prove $O(1/t)$ rates for both $\ell_2$ margin maximization and implicit bias, whereas prior work (including all first-order methods for the general hard-margin linear SVM problem) proved $\widetilde{O}(1/\sqrt{t})$ margin rates, or $O(1/t)$ margin rates to a suboptimal margin, with an implied (slower) bias rate. Our key observations include that gradient descent on the primal variable naturally induces a mirror descent update on the dual variable, and that the dual objective in this setting is smooth enough to give a faster rate. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/ji21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/ji21a.htmlPrecise Minimax Regret for Logistic Regression with Categorical Feature ValuesWe study logistic regression with binary labels and categorical (discrete) feature values. Our goal is to evaluate precisely the (maximal) minimax regret. We express it as the so called Shtarkov sum known in information theory. To the best of our knowledge such a sum was never computed in the context of logistic regression. To be more precise, the pointwise regret of an online algorithm is defined as the (excess) loss it incurs over some value of a constant comparator (weight vector) that is used for prediction. It depends on the feature values, label sequence, and the learning algorithm. In the maximal minimax scenario we seek the best weights for the worst label sequence over all possible learning algorithms/ distributions, therefore it constitutes a lower bound for the pointwise regret. For finite dimension $d$ and $N$ distinct feature vectors we show that the maximal minimax regret grows as $$ \frac{d}{2} \log (T/2\pi)+C_d + O(N/\sqrt{T}) $$ where $T$ is the number of rounds of running a training algorithm and $C_d$ is explicitly computable constant that depends on the feature values and dimension $d$. We also extend these results to non-binary labels. The {\it precise} maximal minimax regret presented here is the first result of this kind. Our findings are obtained using tools of analytic combinatorics and information theory.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/jacquet21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/jacquet21a.htmlSubmodular combinatorial information measures with applications in machine learningInformation-theoretic quantities like entropy and mutual information have found numerous uses in machine learning. It is well known that there is a strong connection between these entropic quantities and submodularity since entropy over a set of random variables is submodular. In this paper, we study combinatorial information measures defined over sets of (not necessarily random) variables. These measures strictly generalize the corresponding entropic measures since they are all parameterized via submodular functions that themselves strictly generalize entropy. Critically, we show that, unlike entropic mutual information in general, the submodular mutual information is actually submodular in one argument, holding the other fixed, for a large class of submodular functions whose third-order partial derivatives satisfy a non-negativity property (also called second-order supermodular functions). We study specific instantiations of the submodular information measures, and see that they all have mathematically intuitive and practically useful expressions. Regarding applications, we connect the maximization of submodular (conditional) mutual information to problems such as mutual-information-based, query-based, and privacy preserving summarization — and we connect optimizing the multi-set submodular mutual information to clustering and robust partitioning.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/iyer21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/iyer21a.htmlStable Sample Compression Schemes: New Applications and an Optimal SVM Margin BoundWe analyze a family of supervised learning algorithms based on sample compression schemes that are stable, in the sense that removing points from the training set which were not selected for the compression set does not alter the resulting classifier. We use this technique to derive a variety of novel or improved data-dependent generalization bounds for several learning algorithms. In particular, we prove a new margin bound for SVM, removing a log factor. The new bound is provably optimal. This resolves a long-standing open question about the PAC margin bounds achievable by SVM.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/hanneke21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/hanneke21a.htmlNear-tight closure b ounds for the Littlestone and threshold dimensionsWe study closure properties for the Littlestone and threshold dimensions of binary hypothesis classes. Given classes $\mathcal{H}_1, \ldots, \mathcal{H}_k$ of binary functions with bounded Littlestone (respectively, threshold) dimension, we establish an upper bound on the Littlestone (respectively, threshold) dimension of the class defined by applying an arbitrary binary aggregation rule to $\mathcal{H}_1, \ldots, \mathcal{H}_k$. We also show that our upper bounds are nearly tight. Our upper bounds give an exponential (in $k$) improvement upon analogous bounds shown by Alon et al. (COLT 2020), thus answering an open question posed by their work.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/ghazi21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/ghazi21a.htmlEfficient sampling from the Bingham distributionWe give a algorithm for exact sampling from the Bingham distribution $p(x)\propto \exp(x^\top A x)$ on the sphere $\mathcal S^{d-1}$ with expected runtime of $\operatorname{poly}(d, \lambda_{\max}(A)-\lambda_{\min}(A))$. The algorithm is based on rejection sampling, where the proposal distribution is a polynomial approximation of the pdf, and can be sampled from by explicitly evaluating integrals of polynomials over the sphere. Our algorithm gives exact samples, assuming exact computation of an inverse function of a polynomial. This is in contrast with Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms, which are not known to enjoy rapid mixing on this problem, and only give approximate samples. As a direct application, we use this to sample from the posterior distribution of a rank-1 matrix inference problem in polynomial time.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/ge21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/ge21a.htmlSubspace Embeddings under Nonlinear TransformationsWe consider low-distortion embeddings for subspaces under \emph{entrywise nonlinear transformations}. In particular we seek embeddings that preserve the norm of all vectors in a space $S = \{y: y = f(x)\text{ for }x \in Z\}$, where $Z$ is a $k$-dimensional subspace of $\R^n$ and $f(x)$ is a nonlinear activation function applied entrywise to $x$. When $f$ is the identity, and so $S$ is just a $k$-dimensional subspace, it is known that, with high probability, a random embedding into $O(k/\epsilon^2)$ dimensions preserves the norm of all $y \in S$ up to $(1\pm \epsilon)$ relative error. Such embeddings are known as \emph{subspace embeddings}, and have found widespread use in compressed sensing and approximation algorithms.% for regression, PCA, and many other problems. We give the first low-distortion embeddings for a wide class of nonlinear functions $f$. In particular, we give additive $\epsilon$ error embeddings into $O(\frac{k\log (n/\epsilon)}{\epsilon^2})$ dimensions for a class of nonlinearities that includes the popular Sigmoid SoftPlus, and Gaussian functions. We strengthen this result to give relative error embeddings under some further restrictions, which are satisfied e.g., by the Tanh, SoftSign, Exponential Linear Unit, and many other ‘soft’ step functions and rectifying units. Understanding embeddings for subspaces under nonlinear transformations is a key step towards extending random sketching and compressing sensing techniques for linear problems to nonlinear ones. We discuss example applications of our results to improved bounds for compressed sensing via generative neural networks.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/gajjar21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/gajjar21a.htmlAlgorithmic Learning Theory 2021: PrefacePresentation of this volumeMon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/feldman21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/feldman21a.htmlA Technical Note on Non-Stationary Parametric Bandits: Existing Mistakes and Preliminary SolutionsIn this note we identify several mistakes appearing in the existing literature on non-stationary parametric bandits. More precisely, we study Generalized Linear Bandits (GLBs) in drifting environments, where the level of non-stationarity is characterized by a general metric known as the variation-budget. Existing methods to solve such problems typically involve forgetting mechanisms, which allow for a fine balance between the learning and tracking requirements of the problem. We uncover two significant mistakes in their theoretical analysis. The first arises when bounding the tracking error suffered by forgetting mechanisms. The second emerges when considering non-linear reward models, which requires extra care to balance the learning and tracking guarantees. We introduce a geometrical assumption on the arm set, sufficient to overcome the aforementioned technical gaps and recover minimax-optimality. We also share preliminary attempts at fixing those gaps under general configurations. Unfortunately, our solution yields degraded rates (w.r.t to the horizon), which raises new open questions regarding the optimality of forgetting mechanisms in non-stationary parametric bandits.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/faury21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/faury21a.htmlAdversarial Online Learning with Changing Action Sets: Efficient Algorithms with Approximate Regret BoundsWe revisit the problem of online learning with sleeping experts/bandits: in each time step, only a subset of the actions are available for the algorithm to choose from (and learn about). The work of Kleinberg et al. (2010) showed that there exist no-regret algorithms which perform no worse than the best ranking of actions asymptotically. Unfortunately, achieving this regret bound appears computationally hard: Kanade and Steinke (2014) showed that achieving this no-regret performance is at least as hard as PAC-learning DNFs, a notoriously difficult problem. In the present work, we relax the original problem and study computationally efficient no-approximate-regret algorithms: such algorithms may exceed the optimal cost by a multiplicative constant in addition to the additive regret. We give an algorithm that provides a no-approximate-regret guarantee for the general sleeping expert/bandit problems. For several canonical special cases of the problem, we give algorithms with significantly better approximation ratios; these algorithms also illustrate different techniques for achieving no-approximate-regret guarantees. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/emamjomeh-zadeh21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/emamjomeh-zadeh21a.htmlEpisodic Reinforcement Learning in Finite MDPs: Minimax Lower Bounds RevisitedIn this paper, we propose new problem-independent lower bounds on the sample complexity and regret in episodic MDPs, with a particular focus on the \emph{non-stationary case} in which the transition kernel is allowed to change in each stage of the episode. Our main contribution is a lower bound of $\Omega((H^3SA/\epsilon^2)\log(1/\delta))$ on the sample complexity of an $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-PAC algorithm for best policy identification in a non-stationary MDP, relying on a construction of “hard MDPs” which is different from the ones previously used in the literature. Using this same class of MDPs, we also provide a rigorous proof of the $\Omega(\sqrt{H^3SAT})$ regret bound for non-stationary MDPs. Finally, we discuss connections to PAC-MDP lower bounds.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/domingues21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/domingues21a.htmlLast Round Convergence and No-Dynamic Regret in Asymmetric Repeated GamesThis paper considers repeated games in which one player has a different objective than others. In particular, we investigate repeated two-player zero-sum games where the column player not only aims to minimize her regret but also stabilize the actions. Suppose that while repeatedly playing this game, the row player chooses her strategy at each round by using a no-regret algorithm to minimize her regret. We develop a no-dynamic regret algorithm for the column player to exhibit last round convergence to a minimax equilibrium. We show that our algorithm is efficient against a large set of popular no-regret algorithms the row player can use, including the multiplicative weights update algorithm, general follow-the-regularized-leader and any no-regret algorithms satisfy a property so called “stability”.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/dinh21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/dinh21a.htmlAn Efficient Algorithm for Cooperative Semi-BanditsWe consider the problem of asynchronous online combinatorial optimization on a network of communicating agents. At each time step, some of the agents are stochastically activated, requested to make a prediction, and the system pays the corresponding loss. Then, neighbors of active agents receive semi-bandit feedback and exchange some succinct local information. The goal is to minimize the network regret, defined as the difference between the cumulative loss of the predictions of active agents and that of the best action in hindsight, selected from a combinatorial decision set. The main challenge in such a context is to control the computational complexity of the resulting algorithm while retaining minimax optimal regret guarantees. We introduce Coop-FTPL, a cooperative version of the well-known Follow The Perturbed Leader algorithm, that implements a new loss estimation procedure generalizing the Geometric Resampling of Neu and Bartók [2013] to our setting. Assuming that the elements of the decision set are $k$-dimensional binary vectors with at most $m$ non-zero entries and $\alpha_1$ is the independence number of the network, we show that the expected regret of our algorithm after $T$ time steps is of order $Q\sqrt{mkT\log(k) (k\alpha_1/Q+m)}$, where $Q$ is the total activation probability mass. Furthermore, we prove that this is only $\sqrt{k\log k}$-away from the best achievable rate and that Coop-FTPL has a state-of-the-art $T^{3/2}$ worst-case computational complexity.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/della-vecchia21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/della-vecchia21a.htmlAsymptotically Optimal Strategies For Combinatorial Semi-Bandits in Polynomial TimeWe consider combinatorial semi-bandits with uncorrelated Gaussian rewards. In this article, we propose the first method, to the best of our knowledge, that enables to compute the solution of the Graves-Lai optimization problem in polynomial time for many combinatorial structures of interest. In turn, this immediately yields the first known approach to implement asymptotically optimal algorithms in polynomial time for combinatorial semi-bandits. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/cuvelier21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/cuvelier21a.htmlLearning a mixture of two subspaces over finite fields We study the problem of learning a mixture of two subspaces over $\mathbb{F}_2^n$. The goal is to recover the individual subspaces, given samples from a (weighted) mixture of samples drawn uniformly from the two subspaces A_0 and A_1. This problem is computationally challenging, as it captures the notorious problem of “learning parities with noise" in the degenerate setting when $A_1 \subseteq A_0$. This is in contrast to the analogous problem over the reals that can be solved in polynomial time (Vidal’03). This leads to the following natural question: is Learning Parities with Noise the only computational barrier in obtaining efficient algorithms for learning mixtures of subspaces over $\mathbb{F}_2^n$? The main result of this paper is an affirmative answer to the above question. Namely, we show the following results: 1. When the subspaces $A_0$ and $A_1$ are incomparable, i.e., $A_0$ and $A_1$ are not contained inside each other, then there is a polynomial time algorithm to recover the subspaces $A_0$ and $A_1$. 2. In the case when $A_1$ is a subspace of $A_0$ with a significant gap in the dimension i.e., $dim(A_1) \le \alpha dim(A_0)$ for $\alpha<1$, there is a $n^{O(1/(1-\alpha))}$ time algorithm to recover the subspaces $A_0$ and $A_1$. Thus, our algorithms imply computational tractability of the problem of learning mixtures of two subspaces, except in the degenerate setting captured by learning parities with noise. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/chen21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/chen21a.htmlLearning and Testing Irreducible Markov Chains via the $k$-Cover TimeWe give a unified way of testing and learning finite Markov chains from a single Markovian trajectory, using the idea of $k$-cover time introduced here. The $k$-cover time is the expected length of a random walk to cover every state at least $k$ times. This generalizes the notion of cover time in the literature. The error metric in the testing and learning problems is the infinity matrix norm between the transition matrices, as considered by Wolfer and Kontorovich. Specifically, we show that if we can learn or test discrete distributions using $k$ samples, then we can learn or test Markov chains using a number of samples equal to the $k$-cover time of the chain, up to constant factors. We then derive asymptotic bounds on the $k$-cover time in terms of the number of states, minimum stationary probability and the cover time of the chain. Our bounds are tight for reversible Markov chains and almost tight (up to logarithmic factors) for irreducible ones. Our results on $k$-cover time yield sample complexity bounds for a wider range of learning and testing tasks (including learning, uniformity testing, identity testing, closeness testing and their tolerant versions) over Markov chains, and can be applied to a broader family of Markov chains (irreducible and reversible ones) than previous results which only applies to ergodic ones.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/chan21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/chan21a.htmlBounding, Concentrating, and Truncating: Unifying Privacy Loss Composition for Data AnalyticsWe unify existing privacy loss composition bounds for special classes of differentially private (DP) algorithms along with general DP composition bounds. In particular, we provide strong privacy loss bounds when an analyst may select pure DP, bounded range (e.g. exponential mechanisms), or concentrated DP mechanisms in any adaptively selected order. We also provide optimal privacy loss bounds that apply when an analyst can select pure DP and bounded range mechanisms in a batch, i.e. non-adaptively. Further, when an analyst selects mechanisms within each class adaptively, we show a difference in privacy loss between different, predetermined orderings of pure DP and bounded range mechanisms. Lastly, we compare the composition bounds of Laplace and Gaussian mechanisms and provide new private mechanisms for top-$k$ using truncated Gaussian noise.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/cesar21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/cesar21a.htmlOnline Boosting with Bandit FeedbackWe consider the problem of online boosting for regression tasks, when only limited information is available to the learner. This setting is motivated by applications in reinforcement learning, in which only partial feedback is provided to the learner. We give an efficient regret minimization method that has two implications. First, we describe an online boosting algorithm with noisy multi-point bandit feedback. Next, we give a new projection-free online convex optimization algorithm with stochastic gradient access, that improves state-of-the-art guarantees in terms of efficiency. Our analysis offers a novel way of incorporating stochastic gradient estimators within Frank-Wolfe-type methods, which circumvents the instability encountered when directly applying projection-free optimization to the stochastic setting.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/brukhim21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/brukhim21a.htmlTesting Product Distributions: A Closer LookWe study the problems of {\em identity} and {\em closeness testing} of $n$-dimensional product distributions. Prior works of Canonne, Diakonikolas, Kane and Stewart (COLT 2017) and Daskalakis and Pan (COLT 2017) have established tight sample complexity bounds for {\em non-tolerant testing over a binary alphabet}: given two product distributions $P$ and $Q$ over a binary alphabet, distinguish between the cases $P=Q$ and $d_{\mathrm{TV}}(P,Q)>\epsilon$. We build on this prior work to give a more comprehensive map of the complexity of testing of product distributions by investigating {\em tolerant testing with respect to several natural distance measures and over an arbitrary alphabet}. Our study gives a fine-grained understanding of how the sample complexity of tolerant testing varies with the distance measures for product distributions. In addition, we also extend one of our upper bounds on product distributions to bounded-degree Bayes nets.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/bhattacharyya21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/bhattacharyya21a.htmlNo-substitution k-means Clustering with Adversarial Order We investigate $k$-means clustering in the online no-substitution setting when the input arrives in \emph{arbitrary} order. In this setting, points arrive one after another, and the algorithm is required to instantly decide whether to take the current point as a center before observing the next point. Decisions are irrevocable. The goal is to minimize both the number of centers and the $k$-means cost. Previous works in this setting assume that the input’s order is random, or that the input’s aspect ratio is bounded. It is known that if the order is arbitrary and there is no assumption on the input, then any algorithm must take all points as centers. Moreover, assuming a bounded aspect ratio is too restrictive — it does not include natural input generated from mixture models. We introduce a new complexity measure that quantifies the difficulty of clustering a dataset arriving in arbitrary order. We design a new random algorithm and prove that if applied on data with complexity $d$, the algorithm takes $O(d\log(n) k\log(k))$ centers and is an $O(k^3)$-approximation. We also prove that if the data is sampled from a “natural" distribution, such as a mixture of $k$ Gaussians, then the new complexity measure is equal to $O(k^2\log(n))$. This implies that for data generated from those distributions, our new algorithm takes only $poly(k\log(n))$ centers and is a $poly(k)$-approximation. In terms of negative results, we prove that the number of centers needed to achieve an $\alpha$-approximation is at least $\Omega\left(\frac{d}{k\log(n\alpha)}\right)$.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/bhattacharjee21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/bhattacharjee21a.htmlSequential prediction under log-loss with side informationThe problem of online prediction with sequential side information under logarithmic loss is studied, and general upper and lower bounds on the minimax regret incurred by the predictor is established. The upper bounds on the minimax regret are obtained by constructing and analyzing a probability assignment based on mixture probability assignments in universal compression, and the lower bounds are obtained by way of a redundancy–capacity theorem. A tight characterization of the regret is provided in some special settings.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/bhatt21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/bhatt21a.htmlStochastic Top-$K$ Subset Bandits with Linear Space and Non-Linear FeedbackMany real-world problems like Social Influence Maximization face the dilemma of choosing the best $K$ out of $N$ options at a given time instant. This setup can be modeled as a combinatorial bandit which chooses $K$ out of $N$ arms at each time, with an aim to achieve an efficient trade-off between exploration and exploitation. This is the first work for combinatorial bandits where the feedback received can be a non-linear function of the chosen $K$ arms. The direct use of multi-armed bandit requires choosing among $N$-choose-$K$ options making the state space large. In this paper, we present a novel algorithm which is computationally efficient and the storage is linear in $N$. The proposed algorithm is a divide-and-conquer based strategy, that we call CMAB-SM. Further, the proposed algorithm achieves a \textit{regret bound} of $\tilde O(K^{\frac{1}{2}}N^{\frac{1}{3}}T^{\frac{2}{3}})$ for a time horizon $T$, which is \textit{sub-linear} in all parameters $T$, $N$, and $K$.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/agarwal21c.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/agarwal21c.htmlA Deep Conditioning Treatment of Neural NetworksWe study the role of depth in training randomly initialized overparameterized neural networks. We give a general result showing that depth improves trainability of neural networks by improving the conditioning of certain kernel matrices of the input data. This result holds for arbitrary non-linear activation functions under a certain normalization. We provide versions of the result that hold for training just the top layer of the neural network, as well as for training all layers, via the neural tangent kernel. As applications of these general results, we provide a generalization of the results of Das et al. (2019) showing that learnability of deep random neural networks with a large class of non-linear activations degrades exponentially with depth. We also show how benign overfitting can occur in deep neural networks via the results of Bartlett et al. (2019b). We also give experimental evidence that normalized versions of ReLU are a viable alternative to more complex operations like Batch Normalization in training deep neural networks.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/agarwal21b.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/agarwal21b.htmlStochastic Dueling Bandits with Adversarial CorruptionThe dueling bandits problem has received a lot of attention in recent years due to its applications in recommendation systems and information retrieval. However, due to the prevalence of malicious users in these systems, it is becoming increasingly important to design dueling bandit algorithms that are robust to corruptions introduced by these malicious users. In this paper we study dueling bandits in the presence of an adversary that can corrupt some of the feedback received by the learner. We propose an algorithm for this problem that is agnostic to the amount of corruption introduced by the adversary: its regret degrades gracefully with the amount of corruption, and in case of no corruption, it essentially matches the optimal regret bounds achievable in the purely stochastic dueling bandits setting.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/agarwal21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/agarwal21a.htmlOn the Sample Complexity of Privately Learning Unbounded High-Dimensional GaussiansWe provide sample complexity upper bounds for agnostically learning multivariate Gaussians under the constraint of approximate differential privacy. These are the first finite sample upper bounds for general Gaussians which do not impose restrictions on the parameters of the distribution. Our bounds are near-optimal in the case when the covariance is known to be the identity, and conjectured to be near-optimal in the general case. From a technical standpoint, we provide analytic tools for arguing the existence of global “locally small” covers from local covers of the space. These are exploited using modifications of recent techniques for differentially private hypothesis selection. Our techniques may prove useful for privately learning other distribution classes which do not possess a finite cover.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/aden-ali21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/aden-ali21a.htmlIntervention Efficient Algorithms for Approximate Learning of Causal GraphsWe study the problem of learning the causal relationships between a set of observed variables in the presence of latents, while minimizing the cost of interventions on the observed variables. We assume access to an undirected graph $G$ on the observed variables whose edges represent either all direct causal relationships or, less restrictively, a superset of causal relationships (identified, e.g., via conditional independence tests or a domain expert). Our goal is to recover the directions of all causal or ancestral relations in $G$, via a minimum cost set of interventions. It is known that constructing an exact minimum cost intervention set for an arbitrary graph $G$ is NP-hard. We further argue that, conditioned on the hardness of approximate graph coloring, no polynomial time algorithm can achieve an approximation factor better than $\Theta(\log n)$, where $n$ is the number of observed variables in $G$. To overcome this limitation, we introduce a bi-criteria approximation goal that lets us recover the directions of all but $\epsilon n^2$ edges in $G$, for some specified error parameter $\epsilon > 0$. Under this relaxed goal, we give polynomial time algorithms that achieve intervention cost within a small constant factor of the optimal. Our algorithms combine work on efficient intervention design and the design of low-cost separating set systems, with ideas from the literature on graph property testing.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/addanki21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/addanki21a.htmlEfficient Algorithms for Stochastic Repeated Second-price AuctionsDeveloping efficient sequential bidding strategies for repeated auctions is an important practical challenge in various marketing tasks. In this setting, the bidding agent obtains information, on both the value of the item at sale and the behavior of the other bidders, only when she wins the auction. Standard bandit theory does not apply to this problem due to the presence of action-dependent censoring. In this work, we consider second-price auctions and propose novel, efficient UCB-like algorithms for this task. These algorithms are analyzed in the stochastic setting, assuming regularity of the distribution of the opponents’ bids. We provide regret upper bounds that quantify the improvement over the baseline algorithm proposed in the literature. The improvement is particularly significant in cases when the value of the auctioned item is low, yielding a spectacular reduction in the order of the worst-case regret. We further provide the first parametric lower bound for this problem that applies to generic UCB-like strategies. As an alternative, we propose more explainable strategies which are reminiscent of the Explore Then Commit bandit algorithm. We provide a critical analysis of this class of strategies, showing both important advantages and limitations. In particular, we provide a minimax lower bound and propose a nearly minimax-optimal instance of this class.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/achddou21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/achddou21a.htmlEstimating Sparse Discrete Distributions Under Privacy and Communication ConstraintsWe consider the problem of estimating sparse discrete distributions under local differential privacy (LDP) and communication constraints. We characterize the sample complexity for sparse estimation under LDP constraints up to a constant factor, and the sample complexity under communication constraints up to a logarithmic factor. Our upper bounds under LDP are based on the Hadamard Response, a private coin scheme that requires only one bit of communication per user. Under communication constraints we propose public coin schemes based on random hashing functions. Our tight lower bounds are based on recently proposed method of chi squared contractions.Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/acharya21b.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/acharya21b.htmlDifferentially Private Assouad, Fano, and Le CamLe Cam’s method, Fano’s inequality, and Assouad’s lemma are three widely used techniques to prove lower bounds for statistical estimation tasks. We propose their analogues under central differential privacy. Our results are simple, easy to apply and we use them to establish sample complexity bounds in several estimation tasks. \\{We} establish the optimal sample complexity of discrete distribution estimation under total variation distance and $\ell_2$ distance. We also provide lower bounds for several other distribution classes, including product distributions and Gaussian mixtures that are tight up to logarithmic factors. The technical component of our paper relates coupling between distributions to the sample complexity of estimation under differential privacy. Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/acharya21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/acharya21a.htmlLast-Iterate Convergence Rates for Min-Max Optimization: Convergence of Hamiltonian Gradient Descent and Consensus OptimizationWhile classic work in convex-concave min-max optimization relies on average-iterate convergence results, the emergence of nonconvex applications such as training Generative Adversarial Networks has led to renewed interest in last-iterate convergence guarantees. Proving last-iterate convergence is challenging because many natural algorithms, such as Simultaneous Gradient Descent/Ascent, provably diverge or cycle even in simple convex-concave min-max settings, and there are relatively few papers that prove global last-iterate convergence rates beyond the bilinear and convex-strongly concave settings. In this work, we show that the Hamiltonian Gradient Descent (HGD) algorithm achieves linear convergence in a variety of more general settings, including convex-concave problems that satisfy a "sufficiently bilinear" condition. We also prove convergence rates for stochastic HGD and for some parameter settings of the Consensus Optimization algorithm of Mescheder et al. (2017).Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/abernethy21a.html
https://proceedings.mlr.press/v132/abernethy21a.html