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Authors:Pranay Thangeda, Ashish Goel, Erica Tevere, Yifan Zhu, Erik Kramer, Adriana Daca, Hari Nayar, Kris Hauser, Melkior Ornik

Abstract:Extraterrestrial autonomous lander missions increasingly demand adaptive capabilities to handle the unpredictable and diverse nature of the terrain. This paper discusses the deployment of a Deep Meta-Learning with Controlled Deployment Gaps (CoDeGa) trained model for terrain scooping tasks in Ocean Worlds Lander Autonomy Testbed (OWLAT) at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The CoDeGa-powered scooping strategy is designed to adapt to novel terrains, selecting scooping actions based on the available RGB-D image data and limited experience. The paper presents our experiences with transferring the scooping framework with CoDeGa-trained model from a low-fidelity testbed to the high-fidelity OWLAT testbed. Additionally, it validates the method's performance in novel, realistic environments, and shares the lessons learned from deploying learning-based autonomy algorithms for space exploration. Experimental results from OWLAT substantiate the efficacy of CoDeGa in rapidly adapting to unfamiliar terrains and effectively making autonomous decisions under considerable domain shifts, thereby endorsing its potential utility in future extraterrestrial missions.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of allocating divisible items among multiple agents, and consider the setting where any agent is allowed to introduce diversity constraints on the items they are allocated. We motivate this via settings where the items themselves correspond to user ad slots or task workers with attributes such as race and gender on which the principal seeks to achieve demographic parity. We consider the following question: When an agent expresses diversity constraints into an allocation rule, is the allocation of other agents hurt significantly? If this happens, the cost of introducing such constraints is disproportionately borne by agents who do not benefit from diversity. We codify this via two desiderata capturing robustness. These are no negative externality -- other agents are not hurt -- and monotonicity -- the agent enforcing the constraint does not see a large increase in value. We show in a formal sense that the Nash Welfare rule that maximizes product of agent values is uniquely positioned to be robust when diversity constraints are introduced, while almost all other natural allocation rules fail this criterion. We also show that the guarantees achieved by Nash Welfare are nearly optimal within a widely studied class of allocation rules. We finally perform an empirical simulation on real-world data that models ad allocations to show that this gap between Nash Welfare and other rules persists in the wild.

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Authors:Bryan C. Chan, Ashish Goel, Jonathan Kosh, Tyler G. R. Reid, Corey R. Snyder, Paul M. Tarantino, Saraswati Soedarmadji, Widyadewi Soedarmadji, Kevin Nelson, Feiqin Xie(+1 more)

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Abstract:In recent decades, GNSS Radio Occultation soundings have proven an invaluable input to global weather forecasting. The success of government-sponsored programs such as COSMIC is now complemented by commercial low-cost cubesat implementations. The result is access to more than 10,000 soundings per day and improved weather forecasting accuracy. This movement towards commercialization has been supported by several agencies, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) with programs such as the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP). This has resulted in further interest in commercially deploying GNSS-RO on complementary platforms. Here, we examine a so far underutilized platform: the high-altitude weather balloon. Such meteorological radiosondes are deployed twice daily at over 900 locations globally and form an essential in-situ data source as a long-standing input to weather forecasting models. Adding GNSS-RO capability to existing radiosonde platforms would greatly expand capability, allowing for persistent and local area monitoring, a feature particularly useful for hurricane and other severe weather monitoring. A prohibitive barrier to entry to this inclusion is cost and complexity as GNSS-RO traditionally requires highly specialized and sensitive equipment. This paper describes a multi-year effort to develop a low-cost and scalable approach to balloon GNSS-RO based on Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) GNSS receivers. We present hardware prototypes and data processing techniques which demonstrate the technical feasibility of the approach through results from several flight testing campaigns.

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Authors:Tyler G. R. Reid, Bryan Chan, Ashish Goel, Kazuma Gunning, Brian Manning, Jerami Martin, Andrew Neish, Adrien Perkins, Paul Tarantino

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Abstract:Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) brought navigation to the masses. Coupled with smartphones, the blue dot in the palm of our hands has forever changed the way we interact with the world. Looking forward, cyber-physical systems such as self-driving cars and aerial mobility are pushing the limits of what localization technologies including GNSS can provide. This autonomous revolution requires a solution that supports safety-critical operation, centimeter positioning, and cyber-security for millions of users. To meet these demands, we propose a navigation service from Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites which deliver precision in-part through faster motion, higher power signals for added robustness to interference, constellation autonomous integrity monitoring for integrity, and encryption / authentication for resistance to spoofing attacks. This paradigm is enabled by the 'New Space' movement, where highly capable satellites and components are now built on assembly lines and launch costs have decreased by more than tenfold. Such a ubiquitous positioning service enables a consistent and secure standard where trustworthy information can be validated and shared, extending the electronic horizon from sensor line of sight to an entire city. This enables the situational awareness needed for true safe operation to support autonomy at scale.

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Abstract:The study of complex networks is a significant development in modern science, and has enriched the social sciences, biology, physics, and computer science. Models and algorithms for such networks are pervasive in our society, and impact human behavior via social networks, search engines, and recommender systems to name a few. A widely used algorithmic technique for modeling such complex networks is to construct a low-dimensional Euclidean embedding of the vertices of the network, where proximity of vertices is interpreted as the likelihood of an edge. Contrary to the common view, we argue that such graph embeddings do not}capture salient properties of complex networks. The two properties we focus on are low degree and large clustering coefficients, which have been widely established to be empirically true for real-world networks. We mathematically prove that any embedding (that uses dot products to measure similarity) that can successfully create these two properties must have rank nearly linear in the number of vertices. Among other implications, this establishes that popular embedding techniques such as Singular Value Decomposition and node2vec fail to capture significant structural aspects of real-world complex networks. Furthermore, we empirically study a number of different embedding techniques based on dot product, and show that they all fail to capture the triangle structure.

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Abstract:Elections and opinion polls often have many candidates, with the aim to either rank the candidates or identify a small set of winners according to voters' preferences. In practice, voters do not provide a full ranking; instead, each voter provides their favorite K candidates, potentially in ranked order. The election organizer must choose K and an aggregation rule. We provide a theoretical framework to make these choices. Each K-Approval or K-partial ranking mechanism (with a corresponding positional scoring rule) induces a learning rate for the speed at which the election correctly recovers the asymptotic outcome. Given the voter choice distribution, the election planner can thus identify the rate optimal mechanism. Earlier work in this area provides coarse order-of-magnitude guaranties which are not sufficient to make such choices. Our framework further resolves questions of when randomizing between multiple mechanisms may improve learning, for arbitrary voter noise models. Finally, we use data from 5 large participatory budgeting elections that we organized across several US cities, along with other ranking data, to demonstrate the utility of our methods. In particular, we find that historically such elections have set K too low and that picking the right mechanism can be the difference between identifying the ultimate winner with only a 80% probability or a 99.9% probability after 400 voters.

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Abstract:We study social choice mechanisms in an implicit utilitarian framework with a metric constraint, where the goal is to minimize \textit{Distortion}, the worst case social cost of an ordinal mechanism relative to underlying cardinal utilities. We consider two additional desiderata: Constant sample complexity and Squared Distortion. Constant sample complexity means that the mechanism (potentially randomized) only uses a constant number of ordinal queries regardless of the number of voters and alternatives. Squared Distortion is a measure of variance of the Distortion of a randomized mechanism. Our primary contribution is the first social choice mechanism with constant sample complexity \textit{and} constant Squared Distortion (which also implies constant Distortion). We call the mechanism Random Referee, because it uses a random agent to compare two alternatives that are the favorites of two other random agents. We prove that the use of a comparison query is necessary: no mechanism that only elicits the top-k preferred alternatives of voters (for constant k) can have Squared Distortion that is sublinear in the number of alternatives. We also prove that unlike any top-k only mechanism, the Distortion of Random Referee meaningfully improves on benign metric spaces, using the Euclidean plane as a canonical example. Finally, among top-1 only mechanisms, we introduce Random Oligarchy. The mechanism asks just 3 queries and is essentially optimal among the class of such mechanisms with respect to Distortion. In summary, we demonstrate the surprising power of constant sample complexity mechanisms generally, and just three random voters in particular, to provide some of the best known results in the implicit utilitarian framework.

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Abstract:We present a suite of algorithms for Dimension Independent Similarity Computation (DISCO) to compute all pairwise similarities between very high dimensional sparse vectors. All of our results are provably independent of dimension, meaning apart from the initial cost of trivially reading in the data, all subsequent operations are independent of the dimension, thus the dimension can be very large. We study Cosine, Dice, Overlap, and the Jaccard similarity measures. For Jaccard similiarity we include an improved version of MinHash. Our results are geared toward the MapReduce framework. We empirically validate our theorems at large scale using data from the social networking site Twitter. At time of writing, our algorithms are live in production at twitter.com.

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