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Learning Theory 5

Moderator: Yaodong Yang

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Wed 21 July 7:00 - 7:20 PDT

Modelling Behavioural Diversity for Learning in Open-Ended Games

Nicolas Perez-Nieves · Yaodong Yang · Oliver Slumbers · David Mguni · Ying Wen · Jun Wang

Promoting behavioural diversity is critical for solving games with non-transitive dynamics where strategic cycles exist, and there is no consistent winner (e.g., Rock-Paper-Scissors). Yet, there is a lack of rigorous treatment for defining diversity and constructing diversity-aware learning dynamics. In this work, we offer a geometric interpretation of behavioural diversity in games and introduce a novel diversity metric based on \emph{determinantal point processes} (DPP). By incorporating the diversity metric into best-response dynamics, we develop \emph{diverse fictitious play} and \emph{diverse policy-space response oracle} for solving normal-form games and open-ended games. We prove the uniqueness of the diverse best response and the convergence of our algorithms on two-player games. Importantly, we show that maximising the DPP-based diversity metric guarantees to enlarge the \emph{gamescape} -- convex polytopes spanned by agents' mixtures of strategies. To validate our diversity-aware solvers, we test on tens of games that show strong non-transitivity. Results suggest that our methods achieve at least the same, and in most games, lower exploitability than PSRO solvers by finding effective and diverse strategies.

Wed 21 July 7:20 - 7:25 PDT

Follow-the-Regularized-Leader Routes to Chaos in Routing Games

Jakub Bielawski · Thiparat Chotibut · Fryderyk Falniowski · Grzegorz Kosiorowski · Michał Misiurewicz · Georgios Piliouras

We study the emergence of chaotic behavior of Follow-the-Regularized Leader (FoReL) dynamics in games. We focus on the effects of increasing the population size or the scale of costs in congestion games, and generalize recent results on unstable, chaotic behaviors in the Multiplicative Weights Update dynamics to a much larger class of FoReL dynamics. We establish that, even in simple linear non-atomic congestion games with two parallel links and \emph{any} fixed learning rate, unless the game is fully symmetric, increasing the population size or the scale of costs causes learning dynamics to becomes unstable and eventually chaotic, in the sense of Li-Yorke and positive topological entropy. Furthermore, we prove the existence of novel non-standard phenomena such as the coexistence of stable Nash equilibria and chaos in the same game. We also observe the simultaneous creation of a chaotic attractor as another chaotic attractor gets destroyed. Lastly, although FoReL dynamics can be strange and non-equilibrating, we prove that the time average still converges to an \emph{exact} equilibrium for any choice of learning rate and any scale of costs.

Wed 21 July 7:25 - 7:30 PDT

How to Learn when Data Reacts to Your Model: Performative Gradient Descent

Zachary Izzo · Lexing Ying · James Zou

Performative distribution shift captures the setting where the choice of which ML model is deployed changes the data distribution. For example, a bank which uses the number of open credit lines to determine a customer's risk of default on a loan may induce customers to open more credit lines in order to improve their chances of being approved. Because of the interactions between the model and data distribution, finding the optimal model parameters is challenging. Works in this area have focused on finding stable points, which can be far from optimal. Here we introduce \emph{performative gradient descent} (PerfGD), an algorithm for computing performatively optimal points. Under regularity assumptions on the performative loss, PerfGD is the first algorithm which provably converges to an optimal point. PerfGD explicitly captures how changes in the model affects the data distribution and is simple to use. We support our findings with theory and experiments.

Wed 21 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT

Continuous Coordination As a Realistic Scenario for Lifelong Learning

Hadi Nekoei · Akilesh Badrinaaraayanan · Aaron Courville · Sarath Chandar

Current deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms are still highly task-specific and lack the ability to generalize to new environments. Lifelong learning (LLL), however, aims at solving multiple tasks sequentially by efficiently transferring and using knowledge between tasks. Despite a surge of interest in lifelong RL in recent years, the lack of a realistic testbed makes robust evaluation of LLL algorithms difficult. Multi-agent RL (MARL), on the other hand, can be seen as a natural scenario for lifelong RL due to its inherent non-stationarity, since the agents’ policies change over time. In this work, we introduce a multi-agent lifelong learning testbed that supports both zero-shot and few-shot settings. Our setup is based on Hanabi — a partially-observable, fully cooperative multi-agent game that has been shown to be challenging for zero-shot coordination. Its large strategy space makes it a desirable environment for lifelong RL tasks. We evaluate several recent MARL methods, and benchmark state-of-the-art LLL algorithms in limited memory and computation regimes to shed light on their strengths and weaknesses. This continual learning paradigm also provides us with a pragmatic way of going beyond centralized training which is the most commonly used training protocol in MARL. We empirically show that the agents trained in our setup are able to coordinate well with unseen agents, without any additional assumptions made by previous works. The code and all pre-trained models are available at

Wed 21 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT

Efficient Deviation Types and Learning for Hindsight Rationality in Extensive-Form Games

Dustin Morrill · Ryan D'Orazio · Marc Lanctot · James Wright · Michael Bowling · Amy Greenwald

Hindsight rationality is an approach to playing general-sum games that prescribes no-regret learning dynamics for individual agents with respect to a set of deviations, and further describes jointly rational behavior among multiple agents with mediated equilibria. To develop hindsight rational learning in sequential decision-making settings, we formalize behavioral deviations as a general class of deviations that respect the structure of extensive-form games. Integrating the idea of time selection into counterfactual regret minimization (CFR), we introduce the extensive-form regret minimization (EFR) algorithm that achieves hindsight rationality for any given set of behavioral deviations with computation that scales closely with the complexity of the set. We identify behavioral deviation subsets, the partial sequence deviation types, that subsume previously studied types and lead to efficient EFR instances in games with moderate lengths. In addition, we present a thorough empirical analysis of EFR instantiated with different deviation types in benchmark games, where we find that stronger types typically induce better performance.

Wed 21 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT

Collaborative Bayesian Optimization with Fair Regret

Rachael Hwee Ling Sim · Yehong Zhang · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low · Patrick Jaillet

Bayesian optimization (BO) is a popular tool for optimizing complex and costly-to-evaluate black-box objective functions. To further reduce the number of function evaluations, any party performing BO may be interested to collaborate with others to optimize the same objective function concurrently. To do this, existing BO algorithms have considered optimizing a batch of input queries in parallel and provided theoretical bounds on their cumulative regret reflecting inefficiency. However, when the objective function values are correlated with real-world rewards (e.g., money), parties may be hesitant to collaborate if they risk incurring larger cumulative regret (i.e., smaller real-world reward) than others. This paper shows that fairness and efficiency are both necessary for the collaborative BO setting. Inspired by social welfare concepts from economics, we propose a new notion of regret capturing these properties and a collaborative BO algorithm whose convergence rate can be theoretically guaranteed by bounding the new regret, both of which share an adjustable parameter for trading off between fairness vs. efficiency. We empirically demonstrate the benefits (e.g., increased fairness) of our algorithm using synthetic and real-world datasets.

Wed 21 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT

Exponentially Many Local Minima in Quantum Neural Networks

Xuchen You · Xiaodi Wu

Quantum Neural Networks (QNNs), or the so-called variational quantum circuits, are important quantum applications both because of their similar promises as classical neural networks and because of the feasibility of their implementation on near-term intermediate-size noisy quantum machines (NISQ). However, the training task of QNNs is challenging and much less understood. We conduct a quantitative investigation on the landscape of loss functions of QNNs and identify a class of simple yet extremely hard QNN instances for training. Specifically, we show for typical under-parameterized QNNs, there exists a dataset that induces a loss function with the number of spurious local minima depending exponentially on the number of parameters. Moreover, we show the optimality of our construction by providing an almost matching upper bound on such dependence. While local minima in classical neural networks are due to non-linear activations, in quantum neural networks local minima appear as a result of the quantum interference phenomenon. Finally, we empirically confirm that our constructions can indeed be hard instances in practice with typical gradient-based optimizers, which demonstrates the practical value of our findings.

Wed 21 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT