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Theory: Bandits/RL/Everything Else

Room 310

Moderator: Vianney Perchet


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Tue 19 July 10:30 - 10:50 PDT

Robustness Implies Generalization via Data-Dependent Generalization Bounds

Kenji Kawaguchi · Zhun Deng · Kyle Luh · Jiaoyang Huang

This paper proves that robustness implies generalization via data-dependent generalization bounds. As a result, robustness and generalization are shown to be connected closely in a data-dependent manner. Our bounds improve previous bounds in two directions, to solve an open problem that has seen little development since 2010. The first is to reduce the dependence on the covering number. The second is to remove the dependence on the hypothesis space. We present several examples, including ones for lasso and deep learning, in which our bounds are provably preferable. The experiments on real-world data and theoretical models demonstrate near-exponential improvements in various situations. To achieve these improvements, we do not require additional assumptions on the unknown distribution; instead, we only incorporate an observable and computable property of the training samples. A key technical innovation is an improved concentration bound for multinomial random variables that is of independent interest beyond robustness and generalization.

Tue 19 July 10:50 - 10:55 PDT

Learning to Hash Robustly, Guaranteed

Alexandr Andoni · Daniel Beaglehole

The indexing algorithms for the high-dimensional nearest neighbor search (NNS) with the best worst-case guarantees are based on the randomized Locality Sensitive Hashing (LSH), and its derivatives. In practice, many heuristic approaches exist to "learn" the best indexing method in order to speed-up NNS, crucially adapting to the structure of the given dataset. Oftentimes, these heuristics outperform the LSH-based algorithms on real datasets, but, almost always, come at the cost of losing the guarantees of either correctness or robust performance on adversarial queries, or apply to datasets with an assumed extra structure/model. In this paper, we design an NNS algorithm for the Hamming space that has worst-case guarantees essentially matching that of theoretical algorithms, while optimizing the hashing to the structure of the dataset (think instance-optimal algorithms) for performance on the minimum-performing query. We evaluate the algorithm's ability to optimize for a given dataset both theoretically and practically. On the theoretical side, we exhibit a natural setting (dataset model) where our algorithm is much better than the standard theoretical one. On the practical side, we run experiments that show that our algorithm has a 1.8x and 2.1x better recall on the worst-performing queries to the MNIST and ImageNet datasets.

Tue 19 July 10:55 - 11:00 PDT

Policy Gradient Method For Robust Reinforcement Learning

Yue Wang · Shaofeng Zou

This paper develops the first policy gradient method with global optimality guarantee and complexity analysis for robust reinforcement learning under model mismatch. Robust reinforcement learning is to learn a policy robust to model mismatch between simulator and real environment. We first develop the robust policy (sub-)gradient, which is applicable for any differentiable parametric policy class. We show that the proposed robust policy gradient method converges to the global optimum asymptotically under direct policy parameterization. We further develop a smoothed robust policy gradient method, and show that to achieve an $\epsilon$-global optimum, the complexity is $\mathcal O(\epsilon^{-3})$. We then extend our methodology to the general model-free setting, and design the robust actor-critic method with differentiable parametric policy class and value function. We further characterize its asymptotic convergence and sample complexity under the tabular setting. Finally, we provide simulation results to demonstrate the robustness of our methods.

Tue 19 July 11:00 - 11:05 PDT

A query-optimal algorithm for finding counterfactuals

Guy Blanc · Caleb Koch · Jane Lange · Li-Yang Tan

We design an algorithm for finding counterfactuals with strong theoretical guarantees on its performance. For any monotone model $f : X^d \to \{0,1\}$ and instance $x^\star$, our algorithm makes\[ S(f)^{O(\Delta_f(x^\star))}\cdot \log d\]queries to $f$ and returns an {\sl optimal} counterfactual for $x^\star$: a nearest instance $x'$ to $x^\star$ for which $f(x')\ne f(x^\star)$. Here $S(f)$ is the sensitivity of $f$, a discrete analogue of the Lipschitz constant, and $\Delta_f(x^\star)$ is the distance from $x^\star$ to its nearest counterfactuals. The previous best known query complexity was $d^{\,O(\Delta_f(x^\star))}$, achievable by brute-force local search. We further prove a lower bound of $S(f)^{\Omega(\Delta_f(x^\star))} + \Omega(\log d)$ on the query complexity of any algorithm, thereby showing that the guarantees of our algorithm are essentially optimal.

Tue 19 July 11:05 - 11:10 PDT

Linear Bandit Algorithms with Sublinear Time Complexity

Shuo Yang · Tongzheng Ren · Sanjay Shakkottai · Eric Price · Inderjit Dhillon · Sujay Sanghavi

We propose two linear bandits algorithms with per-step complexity sublinear in the number of arms $K$. The algorithms are designed for applications where the arm set is extremely large and slowly changing. Our key realization is that choosing an arm reduces to a maximum inner product search (MIPS) problem, which can be solved approximately without breaking regret guarantees. Existing approximate MIPS solvers run in sublinear time. We extend those solvers and present theoretical guarantees for online learning problems, where adaptivity (i.e., a later step depends on the feedback in previous steps) becomes a unique challenge. We then explicitly characterize the tradeoff between the per-step complexity and regret. For sufficiently large $K$, our algorithms have sublinear per-step complexity and $\widetilde O(\sqrt{T})$ regret. Empirically, we evaluate our proposed algorithms in a synthetic environment and a real-world online movie recommendation problem. Our proposed algorithms can deliver a more than 72 times speedup compared to the linear time baselines while retaining similar regret.

Tue 19 July 11:10 - 11:15 PDT

Quantum-Inspired Algorithms from Randomized Numerical Linear Algebra

Nadiia Chepurko · Kenneth Clarkson · Lior Horesh · Honghao Lin · David Woodruff

We create classical (non-quantum) dynamic data structures supporting queries for recommender systems and least-squares regression that are comparable to their quantum analogues. De-quantizing such algorithms has received a flurry of attention in recent years; we obtain sharper bounds for these problems. More significantly, we achieve these improvements by arguing that the previous quantum-inspired algorithms for these problems are doing leverage or ridge-leverage score sampling in disguise; these are powerful and standard techniques in randomized numerical linear algebra. With this recognition, we are able to employ the large body of work in numerical linear algebra to obtain algorithms for these problems that are simpler or faster (or both) than existing approaches. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed data structures also work well on real-world datasets.

Tue 19 July 11:15 - 11:35 PDT

Individual Preference Stability for Clustering

Saba Ahmadi · Pranjal Awasthi · Samir Khuller · Matthäus Kleindessner · Jamie Morgenstern · Pattara Sukprasert · Ali Vakilian

In this paper, we propose a natural notion of individual preference (IP) stability for clustering, which asks that every data point, on average, is closer to the points in its own cluster than to the points in any other cluster. Our notion can be motivated from several perspectives, including game theory and algorithmic fairness. We study several questions related to our proposed notion. We first show that deciding whether a given data set allows for an IP-stable clustering in general is NP-hard. As a result, we explore the design of efficient algorithms for finding IP-stable clusterings in some restricted metric spaces. We present a polytime algorithm to find a clustering satisfying exact IP-stability on the real line, and an efficient algorithm to find an IP-stable 2-clustering for a tree metric. We also consider relaxing the stability constraint, i.e., every data point should not be too far from its own cluster compared to any other cluster. For this case, we provide polytime algorithms with different guarantees. We evaluate some of our algorithms and several standard clustering approaches on real data sets.

Tue 19 July 11:35 - 11:40 PDT

Correlated Quantization for Distributed Mean Estimation and Optimization

Ananda Suresh · Ziteng Sun · Jae Ro · Felix Xinnan Yu

We study the problem of distributed mean estimation and optimization under communication constraints. We propose a correlated quantization protocol whose error guarantee depends on the deviation of data points instead of their absolute range. The design doesn't need any prior knowledge on the concentration property of the dataset, which is required to get such dependence in previous works. We show that applying the proposed protocol as a sub-routine in distributed optimization algorithms leads to better convergence rates. We also prove the optimality of our protocol under mild assumptions. Experimental results show that our proposed algorithm outperforms existing mean estimation protocols on a diverse set of tasks.

Tue 19 July 11:40 - 11:45 PDT

Multiple-Play Stochastic Bandits with Shareable Finite-Capacity Arms

Xuchuang Wang · Hong Xie · John C. S. Lui

We generalize the multiple-play multi-armed bandits (MP-MAB) problem with a shareable arms setting, in which several plays can share the same arm. Furthermore, each shareable arm has a finite reward capacity and a “per-load” reward distribution, both of which are unknown to the learner. The reward from a shareable arm is load-dependent, which is the “per-load” reward multiplying either the number of plays pulling the arm, or its reward capacity when the number of plays exceeds the capacity limit. When the “per-load” reward follows a Gaussian distribution, we prove a sample complexity lower bound of learning the capacity from load-dependent rewards and also a regret lower bound of this new MP-MAB problem. We devise a capacity estimator whose sample complexity upper bound matches the lower bound in terms of reward means and capacities. We also propose an online learning algorithm to address the problem and prove its regret upper bound. This regret upper bound's first term is the same as regret lower bound's, and its second and third terms also evidently correspond to lower bound's. Extensive experiments validate our algorithm’s performance and also its gain in 5G & 4G base station selection.

Tue 19 July 11:45 - 11:50 PDT

Coordinated Attacks against Contextual Bandits: Fundamental Limits and Defense Mechanisms

Jeongyeol Kwon · Yonathan Efroni · Constantine Caramanis · Shie Mannor

Motivated by online recommendation systems, we propose the problem of finding the optimal policy in multitask contextual bandits when a small fraction $\alpha < 1/2$ of tasks (users) are arbitrary and adversarial. The remaining fraction of good users share the same instance of contextual bandits with $S$ contexts and $A$ actions (items). Naturally, whether a user is good or adversarial is not known in advance. The goal is to robustly learn the policy that maximizes rewards for good users with as few user interactions as possible. Without adversarial users, established results in collaborative filtering show that $O(1/\epsilon^2)$ per-user interactions suffice to learn a good policy, precisely because information can be shared across users. This parallelization gain is fundamentally altered by the presence of adversarial users: unless there are super-polynomial number of users, we show a lower bound of $\tilde{\Omega}(\min(S,A) \cdot \alpha^2 / \epsilon^2)$ {\it per-user} interactions to learn an $\epsilon$-optimal policy for the good users. We then show we can achieve an $\tilde{O}(\min(S,A)\cdot \alpha/\epsilon^2)$ upper-bound, by employing efficient robust mean estimators for both uni-variate and high-dimensional random variables. We also show that this can be improved depending on the distributions of contexts.

Tue 19 July 11:50 - 11:55 PDT

The Algebraic Path Problem for Graph Metrics

Enrique Fita Sanmartín · Sebastian Damrich · Fred Hamprecht

Finding paths with optimal properties is a foundational problem in computer science. The notions of shortest paths (minimal sum of edge costs), minimax paths (minimal maximum edge weight), reliability of a path and many others all arise as special cases of the "algebraic path problem" (APP). Indeed, the APP formalizes the relation between different semirings such as min-plus, min-max and the distances they induce. We here clarify, for the first time, the relation between the potential distance and the log-semiring. We also define a new unifying family of algebraic structures that include all above-mentioned path problems as well as the commute cost and others as special or limiting cases. The family comprises not only semirings but also strong bimonoids (that is, semirings without distributivity). We call this new and very general distance the "log-norm distance". Finally, we derive some sufficient conditions which ensure that the APP associated with a semiring defines a metric over an arbitrary graph.

Tue 19 July 11:55 - 12:00 PDT

Steerable 3D Spherical Neurons

Pavlo Melnyk · Michael Felsberg · Mårten Wadenbäck

Emerging from low-level vision theory, steerable filters found their counterpart in prior work on steerable convolutional neural networks equivariant to rigid transformations. In our work, we propose a steerable feed-forward learning-based approach that consists of neurons with spherical decision surfaces and operates on point clouds. Such spherical neurons are obtained by conformal embedding of Euclidean space and have recently been revisited in the context of learning representations of point sets. Focusing on 3D geometry, we exploit the isometry property of spherical neurons and derive a 3D steerability constraint. After training spherical neurons to classify point clouds in a canonical orientation, we use a tetrahedron basis to quadruplicate the neurons and construct rotation-equivariant spherical filter banks. We then apply the derived constraint to interpolate the filter bank outputs and, thus, obtain a rotation-invariant network. Finally, we use a synthetic point set and real-world 3D skeleton data to verify our theoretical findings. The code is available at