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Optimization/Reinforcement Learning

Room 318 - 320

Moderator: Lam M. Nguyen

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Thu 21 July 10:30 - 10:50 PDT

Streaming Algorithm for Monotone k-Submodular Maximization with Cardinality Constraints

Alina Ene · Huy Nguyen

Maximizing a monotone k-submodular function subject to cardinality constraints is a general model for several applications ranging from influence maximization with multiple products to sensor placement with multiple sensor types and online ad allocation. Due to the large problem scale in many applications and the online nature of ad allocation, a need arises for algorithms that process elements in a streaming fashion and possibly make online decisions. In this work, we develop a new streaming algorithm for maximizing a monotone k-submodular function subject to a per-coordinate cardinality constraint attaining an approximation guarantee close to the state of the art guarantee in the offline setting. Though not typical for streaming algorithms, our streaming algorithm also readily applies to the online setting with free disposal. Our algorithm is combinatorial and enjoys fast running time and small number of function evaluations. Furthermore, its guarantee improves as the cardinality constraints get larger, which is especially suited for the large scale applications. For the special case of maximizing a submodular function with large budgets, our combinatorial algorithm matches the guarantee of the state-of-the-art continuous algorithm, which requires significantly more time and function evaluations.

Thu 21 July 10:50 - 10:55 PDT

Adaptive Accelerated (Extra-)Gradient Methods with Variance Reduction

Zijian Liu · Ta Duy Nguyen · Alina Ene · Huy Nguyen

In this paper, we study the finite-sum convex optimization problem focusing on the general convex case. Recently, the study of variance reduced (VR) methods and their accelerated variants has made exciting progress. However, the step size used in the existing VR algorithms typically depends on the smoothness parameter, which is often unknown and requires tuning in practice. To address this problem, we propose two novel adaptive VR algorithms: \textit{Adaptive Variance Reduced Accelerated Extra-Gradient} (AdaVRAE) and\textit{ Adaptive Variance Reduced Accelerated Gradient} (AdaVRAG). Our algorithms do not require knowledge of the smoothness parameter. AdaVRAE uses $\mathcal{O}\left(n\log\log n+\sqrt{\frac{n\beta}{\epsilon}}\right)$ and AdaVRAG uses $\mathcal{O}\left(n\log\log n+\sqrt{\frac{n\beta\log\beta}{\epsilon}}\right)$ gradient evaluations to attain an $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon)$-suboptimal solution, where $n$ is the number of functions in the finite sum and $\beta$ is the smoothness parameter. This result matches the best-known convergence rate of non-adaptive VR methods and it improves upon the convergence of the state of the art adaptive VR method, AdaSVRG. We demonstrate the superior performance of our algorithms comparedwith previous methods in experiments on real-world datasets.

Thu 21 July 10:55 - 11:00 PDT

Adaptive Second Order Coresets for Data-efficient Machine Learning

Omead Pooladzandi · David Davini · Baharan Mirzasoleiman

Training machine learning models on massive datasets incurs substantialcomputational costs. To alleviate such costs, there has been a sustained effort to develop data-efficient training methods that can carefully select subsets of the training examples that generalize on par with the full training data. However, existing methods are limited in providing theoretical guarantees for the quality of the models trained on the extracted subsets, and may perform poorly in practice. We propose AdaCore, a method that leverages the geometry of the data to extract subsets of the training examples for efficient machine learning. The key idea behind our method is to dynamically approximate the curvature of the loss function via an exponentially-averaged estimate of the Hessian to select weighted subsets (coresets) that provide a close approximation of the full gradient preconditioned with the Hessian. We prove rigorous guarantees for the convergence of various first and second-order methods applied to the subsets chosen by AdaCore. Our extensive experiments show that AdaCore extracts coresets with higher quality compared to baselines and speeds up training of convex and non-convex machine learning models, such as logistic regression and neural networks, by over 2.9x over the full data and 4.5x over random subsets.

Thu 21 July 11:00 - 11:05 PDT

Nesterov Accelerated Shuffling Gradient Method for Convex Optimization

Trang Tran · Katya Scheinberg · Lam Nguyen

In this paper, we propose Nesterov Accelerated Shuffling Gradient (NASG), a new algorithm for the convex finite-sum minimization problems. Our method integrates the traditional Nesterov's acceleration momentum with different shuffling sampling schemes. We show that our algorithm has an improved rate of $\Ocal(1/T)$ using unified shuffling schemes, where $T$ is the number of epochs. This rate is better than that of any other shuffling gradient methods in convex regime. Our convergence analysis does not require an assumption on bounded domain or a bounded gradient condition. For randomized shuffling schemes, we improve the convergence bound further. When employing some initial condition, we show that our method converges faster near the small neighborhood of the solution. Numerical simulations demonstrate the efficiency of our algorithm.

Thu 21 July 11:05 - 11:10 PDT

Efficient Low Rank Convex Bounds for Pairwise Discrete Graphical Models

Valentin Durante · George Katsirelos · Thomas Schiex

In this paper, we extend a Burer-Monteiro style method to compute low rank Semi-Definite Programming (SDP) bounds for the MAP problem on discrete graphical models with an arbitrary number of states and arbitrary pairwise potentials. We consider both a penalized constraint approach and a dedicated Block Coordinate Descent (BCD) approach which avoids large penalty coefficients in the cost matrix. We show our algorithm is decreasing. Experiments show that the BCD approach compares favorably to the penalized approach and to usual linear bounds relying on convergent message passing approaches.

Thu 21 July 11:10 - 11:30 PDT

Deletion Robust Submodular Maximization over Matroids

PAUL DUETTING · Federico Fusco · Silvio Lattanzi · Ashkan Norouzi-Fard · Morteza Zadimoghaddam

Maximizing a monotone submodular function is a fundamental task in machine learning. In this paper we study the deletion robust version of the problem under the classic matroids constraint. Here the goal is to extract a small size summary of the dataset that contains a high value independent set even after an adversary deleted some elements. We present constant-factor approximation algorithms, whose space complexity depends on the rank $k$ of the matroid and the number $d$ of deleted elements. In the centralized setting we present a $(3.582+O(\varepsilon))$-approximation algorithm with summary size $O(k + \frac{d}{\eps^2}\log \frac{k}{\eps})$. In the streaming setting we provide a $(5.582+O(\varepsilon))$-approximation algorithm with summary size and memory $O(k + \frac{d}{\eps^2}\log \frac{k}{\eps})$. We complement our theoretical results with an in-depth experimental analysis showing the effectiveness of our algorithms on real-world datasets.

Thu 21 July 11:30 - 11:35 PDT

The Combinatorial Brain Surgeon: Pruning Weights That Cancel One Another in Neural Networks

Xin Yu · Thiago Serra · Srikumar Ramalingam · Shandian Zhe

Neural networks tend to achieve better accuracy with training if they are larger — even if the resulting models are overparameterized. Nevertheless, carefully removing such excess of parameters before, during, or after training may also produce models with similar or even improved accuracy. In many cases, that can be curiously achieved by heuristics as simple as removing a percentage of the weights with the smallest absolute value — even though absolute value is not a perfect proxy for weight relevance. With the premise that obtaining significantly better performance from pruning depends on accounting for the combined effect of removing multiple weights, we revisit one of the classic approaches for impact-based pruning: the Optimal Brain Surgeon (OBS). We propose a tractable heuristic for solving the combinatorial extension of OBS, in which we select weights for simultaneous removal, and we combine it with a single-pass systematic update of unpruned weights. Our selection method outperforms other methods for high sparsity, and the single-pass weight update is also advantageous if applied after those methods.

Thu 21 July 11:35 - 11:40 PDT

Instance Dependent Regret Analysis of Kernelized Bandits

Shubhanshu Shekhar · Tara Javidi

We study the problem of designing an adaptive strategy for querying a noisy zeroth-order-oracle to efficiently learn about the optimizer of an unknown function $f$. To make the problem tractable, we assume that $f$ lies in the reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) associated with a known kernel $K$, with its norm bounded by $M<\infty$. Prior results, working in a \emph{minimax framework}, have characterized the worst-case~(over all functions in the problem class) limits on regret achievable by \emph{any} algorithm, and have constructed algorithms with matching~(modulo polylogarithmic factors) worst-case performance for the Matern family of kernels. These results suffer from two drawbacks. First, the minimax lower bound gives limited information about the limits of regret achievable by commonly used algorithms on a specific problem instance $f$. Second, the existing upper bound analysis fails to adapt to easier problem instances within the function class. Our work takes steps to address both these issues. First, we derive \emph{instance-dependent} regret lower bounds for algorithms with uniformly~(over the function class) vanishing normalized cumulative regret. Our result, valid for several practically relevant kernelized bandits algorithms, such as, GP-UCB, GP-TS and SupKernelUCB, identifies a fundamental complexity measure associated with every problem instance. We then address the second issue, by proposing a new minimax near-optimal algorithm that also adapts to easier problem instances.

Thu 21 July 11:40 - 11:45 PDT

EAT-C: Environment-Adversarial sub-Task Curriculum for Efficient Reinforcement Learning

Shuang Ao · Tianyi Zhou · Jing Jiang · Guodong Long · Xuan Song · Chengqi Zhang

Reinforcement learning (RL) is inefficient on long-horizon tasks due to sparse rewards and its policy can be fragile to slightly perturbed environments. We address these challenges via a curriculum of tasks with coupled environments, generated by two policies trained jointly with RL: (1) a co-operative planning policy recursively decomposing a hard task into a coarse-to-fine sub-task tree; and (2) an adversarial policy modifying the environment in each sub-task. They are complementary to acquire more informative feedback for RL: (1) provides dense reward of easier sub-tasks while (2) modifies sub-tasks' environments to be more challenging and diverse. Conversely, they are trained by RL's dense feedback on sub-tasks so their generated curriculum keeps adaptive to RL's progress. The sub-task tree enables an easy-to-hard curriculum for every policy: its top-down construction gradually increases sub-tasks the planner needs to generate, while the adversarial training between the environment and RL follows a bottom-up traversal that starts from a dense sequence of easier sub-tasks allowing more frequent environment changes. We compare EAT-C with RL/planning targeting similar problems and methods with environment generators or adversarial agents. Extensive experiments on diverse tasks demonstrate the advantages of our method on improving RL's efficiency and generalization.

Thu 21 July 11:45 - 11:50 PDT

Tell me why! Explanations support learning relational and causal structure

Andrew Lampinen · Nicholas Roy · Ishita Dasgupta · Stephanie Chan · Allison Tam · James McClelland · Chen Yan · Adam Santoro · Neil Rabinowitz · Jane Wang · Feilx Hill

Inferring the abstract relational and causal structure of the world is a major challenge for reinforcement-learning (RL) agents. For humans, language—particularly in the form of explanations—plays a considerable role in overcoming this challenge. Here, we show that language can play a similar role for deep RL agents in complex environments. While agents typically struggle to acquire relational and causal knowledge, augmenting their experience by training them to predict language descriptions and explanations can overcome these limitations. We show that language can help agents learn challenging relational tasks, and examine which aspects of language contribute to its benefits. We then show that explanations can help agents to infer not only relational but also causal structure. Language can shape the way that agents to generalize out-of-distribution from ambiguous, causally-confounded training, and explanations even allow agents to learn to perform experimental interventions to identify causal relationships. Our results suggest that language description and explanation may be powerful tools for improving agent learning and generalization.

Thu 21 July 11:50 - 11:55 PDT

Koopman Q-learning: Offline Reinforcement Learning via Symmetries of Dynamics

Matthias Weissenbacher · Samrath Sinha · Animesh Garg · Yoshinobu Kawahara

Offline reinforcement learning leverages large datasets to train policies without interactions with the environment. The learned policies may then be deployed in real-world settings where interactions are costly or dangerous. Current algorithms over-fit to the training dataset and as a consequence perform poorly when deployed to out-of-distribution generalizations of the environment. We aim to address these limitations by learning a Koopman latent representation which allows us to infer symmetries of the system's underlying dynamic. The latter is then utilized to extend the otherwise static offline dataset during training; this constitutes a novel data augmentation framework which reflects the system's dynamic and is thus to be interpreted as an exploration of the environments phase space. To obtain the symmetries we employ Koopman theory in which nonlinear dynamics are represented in terms of a linear operator acting on the space of measurement functions of the system. We provide novel theoretical results on the existence and nature of symmetries relevant for control systems such as reinforcement learning settings. Moreover, we empirically evaluate our method on several benchmark offline reinforcement learning tasks and datasets including D4RL, Metaworld and Robosuite and find that by using our framework we consistently improve the state-of-the-art of model-free Q-learning methods.