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Supervised Off-Policy Ranking
Yue Jin · Yue Zhang · Tao Qin · Xudong Zhang · Jian Yuan · Houqiang Li · Tie-Yan Liu

Tue Jul 19 11:45 AM -- 11:50 AM (PDT) @ Room 309

Off-policy evaluation (OPE) is to evaluate a target policy with data generated by other policies. Most previous OPE methods focus on precisely estimating the true performance of a policy. We observe that in many applications, (1) the end goal of OPE is to compare two or multiple candidate policies and choose a good one, which is a much simpler task than precisely evaluating their true performance; and (2) there are usually multiple policies that have been deployed to serve users in real-world systems and thus the true performance of these policies can be known. Inspired by the two observations, in this work, we study a new problem, supervised off-policy ranking (SOPR), which aims to rank a set of target policies based on supervised learning by leveraging off-policy data and policies with known performance. We propose a method to solve SOPR, which learns a policy scoring model by minimizing a ranking loss of the training policies rather than estimating the precise policy performance. The scoring model in our method, a hierarchical Transformer based model, maps a set of state-action pairs to a score, where the state of each pair comes from the off-policy data and the action is taken by a target policy on the state in an offline manner. Extensive experiments on public datasets show that our method outperforms baseline methods in terms of rank correlation, regret value, and stability. Our code is publicly available at GitHub.

Author Information

Yue Jin (Tsinghua University)
Yue Zhang (University of Science and Technology of China)
Tao Qin (Microsoft Research Asia)
Xudong Zhang (Tsinghua university)
Jian Yuan (Tsinghua University)
Houqiang Li (University of Science and Technology of China)
Tie-Yan Liu (Microsoft Research Asia)

Tie-Yan Liu is a principal researcher of Microsoft Research Asia, leading the research on artificial intelligence and machine learning. He is very well known for his pioneer work on learning to rank and computational advertising, and his recent research interests include deep learning, reinforcement learning, and distributed machine learning. Many of his technologies have been transferred to Microsoft’s products and online services (such as Bing, Microsoft Advertising, and Azure), and open-sourced through Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK), Microsoft Distributed Machine Learning Toolkit (DMTK), and Microsoft Graph Engine. On the other hand, he has been actively contributing to academic communities. He is an adjunct/honorary professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Nottingham, and several other universities in China. His papers have been cited for tens of thousands of times in refereed conferences and journals. He has won quite a few awards, including the best student paper award at SIGIR (2008), the most cited paper award at Journal of Visual Communications and Image Representation (2004-2006), the research break-through award (2012) and research-team-of-the-year award (2017) at Microsoft Research, and Top-10 Springer Computer Science books by Chinese authors (2015), and the most cited Chinese researcher by Elsevier (2017). He has been invited to serve as general chair, program committee chair, local chair, or area chair for a dozen of top conferences including SIGIR, WWW, KDD, ICML, NIPS, IJCAI, AAAI, ACL, ICTIR, as well as associate editor of ACM Transactions on Information Systems, ACM Transactions on the Web, and Neurocomputing. Tie-Yan Liu is a fellow of the IEEE, a distinguished member of the ACM, and a vice chair of the CIPS information retrieval technical committee.

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