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Given a dataset of individuals each described by a covariate vector, a treatment, and an observed outcome on the treatment, the goal of the individual treatment effect (ITE) estimation task is to predict outcome changes resulting from a change in treatment. A fundamental challenge is that in the observational data, a covariate's outcome is observed only under one treatment, whereas we need to infer the difference in outcomes under two different treatments. Several existing approaches address this issue through training with inferred pseudo-outcomes, but their success relies on the quality of these pseudo-outcomes. We propose PairNet, a novel ITE estimation training strategy that minimizes losses over pairs of examples based on their factual observed outcomes. Theoretical analysis for binary treatments reveals that PairNet is a consistent estimator of ITE risk, and achieves smaller generalization error than baseline models. Empirical comparison with thirteen existing methods across eight benchmarks, covering both discrete and continuous treatments, shows that PairNet achieves significantly lower ITE error compared to the baselines. Also, it is model-agnostic and easy to implement.

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Mixed linear regression is a well-studied problem in parametric statistics and machine learning. Given a set of samples, tuples of covariates and labels, the task of mixed linear regression is to find a small list of linear relationships that best fit the samples. Usually it is assumed that the label is generated stochastically by randomly selecting one of two or more linear functions, applying this chosen function to the covariates, and potentially introducing noise to the result. In that situation, the objective is to estimate the ground-truth linear functions up to some parameter error. The popular expectation maximization (EM) and alternating minimization (AM) algorithms have been previously analyzed for this. In this paper, we consider the more general problem of agnostic learning of mixed linear regression from samples, without such generative models. In particular, we show that the AM and EM algorithms, under standard conditions of separability and good initialization, lead to agnostic learning in mixed linear regression by converging to the population loss minimizers, for suitably defined loss functions. In some sense, this shows the strength of AM and EM algorithms that converges to ``optimal solutions'' even in the absence of realizable generative models.

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Motivated by the need for communication-efficient distributed learning, we investigate the method for compressing a unit norm vector into the minimum number of bits, while still allowing for some acceptable level of distortion in recovery. This problem has been explored in the rate-distortion/covering code literature, but our focus is exclusively on the "high-distortion" regime. We approach this problem in a worst-case scenario, without any prior information on the vector, but allowing for the use of randomized compression maps. Our study considers both biased and unbiased compression methods and determines the optimal compression rates. It turns out that simple compression schemes are nearly optimal in this scenario. While the results are a mix of new and known, they are compiled in this paper for completeness.

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We present a non-asymptotic lower bound on the eigenspectrum of the design matrix generated by any linear bandit algorithm with sub-linear regret when the action set has well-behaved curvature. Specifically, we show that the minimum eigenvalue of the expected design matrix grows as $\Omega(\sqrt{n})$ whenever the expected cumulative regret of the algorithm is $O(\sqrt{n})$, where $n$ is the learning horizon, and the action-space has a constant Hessian around the optimal arm. This shows that such action-spaces force a polynomial lower bound rather than a logarithmic lower bound, as shown by \cite{lattimore2017end}, in discrete (i.e., well-separated) action spaces. Furthermore, while the previous result is shown to hold only in the asymptotic regime (as $n \to \infty$), our result for these ``locally rich" action spaces is any-time. Additionally, under a mild technical assumption, we obtain a similar lower bound on the minimum eigen value holding with high probability. We apply our result to two practical scenarios -- \emph{model selection} and \emph{clustering} in linear bandits. For model selection, we show that an epoch-based linear bandit algorithm adapts to the true model complexity at a rate exponential in the number of epochs, by virtue of our novel spectral bound. For clustering, we consider a multi agent framework where we show, by leveraging the spectral result, that no forced exploration is necessary -- the agents can run a linear bandit algorithm and estimate their underlying parameters at once, and hence incur a low regret.

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We consider model selection for classic Reinforcement Learning (RL) environments -- Multi Armed Bandits (MABs) and Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) -- under general function approximations. In the model selection framework, we do not know the function classes, denoted by $\mathcal{F}$ and $\mathcal{M}$, where the true models -- reward generating function for MABs and and transition kernel for MDPs -- lie, respectively. Instead, we are given $M$ nested function (hypothesis) classes such that true models are contained in at-least one such class. In this paper, we propose and analyze efficient model selection algorithms for MABs and MDPs, that \emph{adapt} to the smallest function class (among the nested $M$ classes) containing the true underlying model. Under a separability assumption on the nested hypothesis classes, we show that the cumulative regret of our adaptive algorithms match to that of an oracle which knows the correct function classes (i.e., $\cF$ and $\cM$) a priori. Furthermore, for both the settings, we show that the cost of model selection is an additive term in the regret having weak (logarithmic) dependence on the learning horizon $T$.

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Understanding complex dynamics of two-sided online matching markets, where the demand-side agents compete to match with the supply-side (arms), has recently received substantial interest. To that end, in this paper, we introduce the framework of decentralized two-sided matching market under non stationary (dynamic) environments. We adhere to the serial dictatorship setting, where the demand-side agents have unknown and different preferences over the supply-side (arms), but the arms have fixed and known preference over the agents. We propose and analyze a decentralized and asynchronous learning algorithm, namely Decentralized Non-stationary Competing Bandits (\texttt{DNCB}), where the agents play (restrictive) successive elimination type learning algorithms to learn their preference over the arms. The complexity in understanding such a system stems from the fact that the competing bandits choose their actions in an asynchronous fashion, and the lower ranked agents only get to learn from a set of arms, not \emph{dominated} by the higher ranked agents, which leads to \emph{forced exploration}. With carefully defined complexity parameters, we characterize this \emph{forced exploration} and obtain sub-linear (logarithmic) regret of \texttt{DNCB}. Furthermore, we validate our theoretical findings via experiments.

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While mixture of linear regressions (MLR) is a well-studied topic, prior works usually do not analyze such models for prediction error. In fact, {\em prediction} and {\em loss} are not well-defined in the context of mixtures. In this paper, first we show that MLR can be used for prediction where instead of predicting a label, the model predicts a list of values (also known as {\em list-decoding}). The list size is equal to the number of components in the mixture, and the loss function is defined to be minimum among the losses resulted by all the component models. We show that with this definition, a solution of the empirical risk minimization (ERM) achieves small probability of prediction error. This begs for an algorithm to minimize the empirical risk for MLR, which is known to be computationally hard. Prior algorithmic works in MLR focus on the {\em realizable} setting, i.e., recovery of parameters when data is probabilistically generated by a mixed linear (noisy) model. In this paper we show that a version of the popular alternating minimization (AM) algorithm finds the best fit lines in a dataset even when a realizable model is not assumed, under some regularity conditions on the dataset and the initial points, and thereby provides a solution for the ERM. We further provide an algorithm that runs in polynomial time in the number of datapoints, and recovers a good approximation of the best fit lines. The two algorithms are experimentally compared.

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We prove an instance independent (poly) logarithmic regret for stochastic contextual bandits with linear payoff. Previously, in \cite{chu2011contextual}, a lower bound of $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{T})$ is shown for the contextual linear bandit problem with arbitrary (adversarily chosen) contexts. In this paper, we show that stochastic contexts indeed help to reduce the regret from $\sqrt{T}$ to $\polylog(T)$. We propose Low Regret Stochastic Contextual Bandits (\texttt{LR-SCB}), which takes advantage of the stochastic contexts and performs parameter estimation (in $\ell_2$ norm) and regret minimization simultaneously. \texttt{LR-SCB} works in epochs, where the parameter estimation of the previous epoch is used to reduce the regret of the current epoch. The (poly) logarithmic regret of \texttt{LR-SCB} stems from two crucial facts: (a) the application of a norm adaptive algorithm to exploit the parameter estimation and (b) an analysis of the shifted linear contextual bandit algorithm, showing that shifting results in increasing regret. We have also shown experimentally that stochastic contexts indeed incurs a regret that scales with $\polylog(T)$.

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We address the problem of model selection for the finite horizon episodic Reinforcement Learning (RL) problem where the transition kernel $P^*$ belongs to a family of models $\mathcal{P}^*$ with finite metric entropy. In the model selection framework, instead of $\mathcal{P}^*$, we are given $M$ nested families of transition kernels $\cP_1 \subset \cP_2 \subset \ldots \subset \cP_M$. We propose and analyze a novel algorithm, namely \emph{Adaptive Reinforcement Learning (General)} (\texttt{ARL-GEN}) that adapts to the smallest such family where the true transition kernel $P^*$ lies. \texttt{ARL-GEN} uses the Upper Confidence Reinforcement Learning (\texttt{UCRL}) algorithm with value targeted regression as a blackbox and puts a model selection module at the beginning of each epoch. Under a mild separability assumption on the model classes, we show that \texttt{ARL-GEN} obtains a regret of $\Tilde{\mathcal{O}}(d_{\mathcal{E}}^*H^2+\sqrt{d_{\mathcal{E}}^* \mathbb{M}^* H^2 T})$, with high probability, where $H$ is the horizon length, $T$ is the total number of steps, $d_{\mathcal{E}}^*$ is the Eluder dimension and $\mathbb{M}^*$ is the metric entropy corresponding to $\mathcal{P}^*$. Note that this regret scaling matches that of an oracle that knows $\mathcal{P}^*$ in advance. We show that the cost of model selection for \texttt{ARL-GEN} is an additive term in the regret having a weak dependence on $T$. Subsequently, we remove the separability assumption and consider the setup of linear mixture MDPs, where the transition kernel $P^*$ has a linear function approximation. With this low rank structure, we propose novel adaptive algorithms for model selection, and obtain (order-wise) regret identical to that of an oracle with knowledge of the true model class.

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We consider the problem of model selection for the general stochastic contextual bandits under the realizability assumption. We propose a successive refinement based algorithm called Adaptive Contextual Bandit ({\ttfamily ACB}), that works in phases and successively eliminates model classes that are too simple to fit the given instance. We prove that this algorithm is adaptive, i.e., the regret rate order-wise matches that of {\ttfamily FALCON}, the state-of-art contextual bandit algorithm of Levi et. al '20, that needs knowledge of the true model class. The price of not knowing the correct model class is only an additive term contributing to the second order term in the regret bound. This cost possess the intuitive property that it becomes smaller as the model class becomes easier to identify, and vice-versa. We then show that a much simpler explore-then-commit (ETC) style algorithm also obtains a regret rate of matching that of {\ttfamily FALCON}, despite not knowing the true model class. However, the cost of model selection is higher in ETC as opposed to in {\ttfamily ACB}, as expected. Furthermore, {\ttfamily ACB} applied to the linear bandit setting with unknown sparsity, order-wise recovers the model selection guarantees previously established by algorithms tailored to the linear setting.

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