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Yang Cai, Constantinos Daskalakis, Haipeng Luo, Chen-Yu Wei, Weiqiang Zheng

While Online Gradient Descent and other no-regret learning procedures are known to efficiently converge to coarse correlated equilibrium in games where each agent's utility is concave in their own strategy, this is not the case when the utilities are non-concave, a situation that is common in machine learning applications where the agents' strategies are parameterized by deep neural networks, or the agents' utilities are computed by a neural network, or both. Indeed, non-concave games present a host of game-theoretic and optimization challenges: (i) Nash equilibria may fail to exist; (ii) local Nash equilibria exist but are intractable; and (iii) mixed Nash, correlated, and coarse correlated equilibria have infinite support in general, and are intractable. To sidestep these challenges we propose a new solution concept, termed $(\varepsilon, \Phi(\delta))$-local equilibrium, which generalizes local Nash equilibrium in non-concave games, as well as (coarse) correlated equilibrium in concave games. Importantly, we show that two instantiations of this solution concept capture the convergence guarantees of Online Gradient Descent and no-regret learning, which we show efficiently converge to this type of equilibrium in non-concave games with smooth utilities.

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Yuval Dagan, Constantinos Daskalakis, Maxwell Fishelson, Noah Golowich

We provide a novel reduction from swap-regret minimization to external-regret minimization, which improves upon the classical reductions of Blum-Mansour [BM07] and Stolz-Lugosi [SL05] in that it does not require finiteness of the space of actions. We show that, whenever there exists a no-external-regret algorithm for some hypothesis class, there must also exist a no-swap-regret algorithm for that same class. For the problem of learning with expert advice, our result implies that it is possible to guarantee that the swap regret is bounded by {\epsilon} after $\log(N)^{O(1/\epsilon)}$ rounds and with $O(N)$ per iteration complexity, where $N$ is the number of experts, while the classical reductions of Blum-Mansour and Stolz-Lugosi require $O(N/\epsilon^2)$ rounds and at least $\Omega(N^2)$ per iteration complexity. Our result comes with an associated lower bound, which -- in contrast to that in [BM07] -- holds for oblivious and $\ell_1$-constrained adversaries and learners that can employ distributions over experts, showing that the number of rounds must be $\tilde\Omega(N/\epsilon^2)$ or exponential in $1/\epsilon$. Our reduction implies that, if no-regret learning is possible in some game, then this game must have approximate correlated equilibria, of arbitrarily good approximation. This strengthens the folklore implication of no-regret learning that approximate coarse correlated equilibria exist. Importantly, it provides a sufficient condition for the existence of correlated equilibrium which vastly extends the requirement that the action set is finite, thus answering a question left open by [DG22; Ass+23]. Moreover, it answers several outstanding questions about equilibrium computation and/or learning in games.

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Constantinos Daskalakis, Noah Golowich, Nika Haghtalab, Abhishek Shetty

A fundamental shortcoming of the concept of Nash equilibrium is its computational intractability: approximating Nash equilibria in normal-form games is PPAD-hard. In this paper, inspired by the ideas of smoothed analysis, we introduce a relaxed variant of Nash equilibrium called $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibrium, for a smoothness parameter $\sigma$. In a $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibrium, players only need to achieve utility at least as high as their best deviation to a $\sigma$-smooth strategy, which is a distribution that does not put too much mass (as parametrized by $\sigma$) on any fixed action. We distinguish two variants of $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibria: strong $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibria, in which players are required to play $\sigma$-smooth strategies under equilibrium play, and weak $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibria, where there is no such requirement. We show that both weak and strong $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibria have superior computational properties to Nash equilibria: when $\sigma$ as well as an approximation parameter $\epsilon$ and the number of players are all constants, there is a constant-time randomized algorithm to find a weak $\epsilon$-approximate $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibrium in normal-form games. In the same parameter regime, there is a polynomial-time deterministic algorithm to find a strong $\epsilon$-approximate $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibrium in a normal-form game. These results stand in contrast to the optimal algorithm for computing $\epsilon$-approximate Nash equilibria, which cannot run in faster than quasipolynomial-time. We complement our upper bounds by showing that when either $\sigma$ or $\epsilon$ is an inverse polynomial, finding a weak $\epsilon$-approximate $\sigma$-smooth Nash equilibria becomes computationally intractable.

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Angelos Assos, Idan Attias, Yuval Dagan, Constantinos Daskalakis, Maxwell Fishelson

While ERM suffices to attain near-optimal generalization error in the stochastic learning setting, this is not known to be the case in the online learning setting, where algorithms for general concept classes rely on computationally inefficient oracles such as the Standard Optimal Algorithm (SOA). In this work, we propose an algorithm for online binary classification setting that relies solely on ERM oracle calls, and show that it has finite regret in the realizable setting and sublinearly growing regret in the agnostic setting. We bound the regret in terms of the Littlestone and threshold dimensions of the underlying concept class. We obtain similar results for nonparametric games, where the ERM oracle can be interpreted as a best response oracle, finding the best response of a player to a given history of play of the other players. In this setting, we provide learning algorithms that only rely on best response oracles and converge to approximate-minimax equilibria in two-player zero-sum games and approximate coarse correlated equilibria in multi-player general-sum games, as long as the game has a bounded fat-threshold dimension. Our algorithms apply to both binary-valued and real-valued games and can be viewed as providing justification for the wide use of double oracle and multiple oracle algorithms in the practice of solving large games.

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Giannis Daras, Yuval Dagan, Alexandros G. Dimakis, Constantinos Daskalakis

Imperfect score-matching leads to a shift between the training and the sampling distribution of diffusion models. Due to the recursive nature of the generation process, errors in previous steps yield sampling iterates that drift away from the training distribution. Yet, the standard training objective via Denoising Score Matching (DSM) is only designed to optimize over non-drifted data. To train on drifted data, we propose to enforce a \emph{consistency} property which states that predictions of the model on its own generated data are consistent across time. Theoretically, we show that if the score is learned perfectly on some non-drifted points (via DSM) and if the consistency property is enforced everywhere, then the score is learned accurately everywhere. Empirically we show that our novel training objective yields state-of-the-art results for conditional and unconditional generation in CIFAR-10 and baseline improvements in AFHQ and FFHQ. We open-source our code and models: https://github.com/giannisdaras/cdm

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Panos Stinis, Constantinos Daskalakis, Paul J. Atzberger

We introduce adversarial learning methods for data-driven generative modeling of the dynamics of $n^{th}$-order stochastic systems. Our approach builds on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) with generative model classes based on stable $m$-step stochastic numerical integrators. We introduce different formulations and training methods for learning models of stochastic dynamics based on observation of trajectory samples. We develop approaches using discriminators based on Maximum Mean Discrepancy (MMD), training protocols using conditional and marginal distributions, and methods for learning dynamic responses over different time-scales. We show how our approaches can be used for modeling physical systems to learn force-laws, damping coefficients, and noise-related parameters. The adversarial learning approaches provide methods for obtaining stable generative models for dynamic tasks including long-time prediction and developing simulations for stochastic systems.

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Yuval Dagan, Constantinos Daskalakis, Anthimos Vardis Kandiros

We study the optimization landscape of the log-likelihood function and the convergence of the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm in latent Gaussian tree models, i.e. tree-structured Gaussian graphical models whose leaf nodes are observable and non-leaf nodes are unobservable. We show that the unique non-trivial stationary point of the population log-likelihood is its global maximum, and establish that the expectation-maximization algorithm is guaranteed to converge to it in the single latent variable case. Our results for the landscape of the log-likelihood function in general latent tree models provide support for the extensive practical use of maximum likelihood based-methods in this setting. Our results for the EM algorithm extend an emerging line of work on obtaining global convergence guarantees for this celebrated algorithm. We show our results for the non-trivial stationary points of the log-likelihood by arguing that a certain system of polynomial equations obtained from the EM updates has a unique non-trivial solution. The global convergence of the EM algorithm follows by arguing that all trivial fixed points are higher-order saddle points.

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Davin Choo, Yuval Dagan, Constantinos Daskalakis, Anthimos Vardis Kandiros

We provide time- and sample-efficient algorithms for learning and testing latent-tree Ising models, i.e. Ising models that may only be observed at their leaf nodes. On the learning side, we obtain efficient algorithms for learning a tree-structured Ising model whose leaf node distribution is close in Total Variation Distance, improving on the results of prior work. On the testing side, we provide an efficient algorithm with fewer samples for testing whether two latent-tree Ising models have leaf-node distributions that are close or far in Total Variation distance. We obtain our algorithms by showing novel localization results for the total variation distance between the leaf-node distributions of tree-structured Ising models, in terms of their marginals on pairs of leaves.

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Constantinos Daskalakis, Noah Golowich, Stratis Skoulakis, Manolis Zampetakis

Min-max optimization problems involving nonconvex-nonconcave objectives have found important applications in adversarial training and other multi-agent learning settings. Yet, no known gradient descent-based method is guaranteed to converge to (even local notions of) min-max equilibrium in the nonconvex-nonconcave setting. For all known methods, there exist relatively simple objectives for which they cycle or exhibit other undesirable behavior different from converging to a point, let alone to some game-theoretically meaningful one~\cite{flokas2019poincare,hsieh2021limits}. The only known convergence guarantees hold under the strong assumption that the initialization is very close to a local min-max equilibrium~\cite{wang2019solving}. Moreover, the afore-described challenges are not just theoretical curiosities. All known methods are unstable in practice, even in simple settings. We propose the first method that is guaranteed to converge to a local min-max equilibrium for smooth nonconvex-nonconcave objectives. Our method is second-order and provably escapes limit cycles as long as it is initialized at an easy-to-find initial point. Both the definition of our method and its convergence analysis are motivated by the topological nature of the problem. In particular, our method is not designed to decrease some potential function, such as the distance of its iterate from the set of local min-max equilibria or the projected gradient of the objective, but is designed to satisfy a topological property that guarantees the avoidance of cycles and implies its convergence.

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Constantinos Daskalakis, Patroklos Stefanou, Rui Yao, Manolis Zampetakis

Truncated linear regression is a classical challenge in Statistics, wherein a label, $y = w^T x + \varepsilon$, and its corresponding feature vector, $x \in \mathbb{R}^k$, are only observed if the label falls in some subset $S \subseteq \mathbb{R}$; otherwise the existence of the pair $(x, y)$ is hidden from observation. Linear regression with truncated observations has remained a challenge, in its general form, since the early works of~\citet{tobin1958estimation,amemiya1973regression}. When the distribution of the error is normal with known variance, recent work of~\citet{daskalakis2019truncatedregression} provides computationally and statistically efficient estimators of the linear model, $w$. In this paper, we provide the first computationally and statistically efficient estimators for truncated linear regression when the noise variance is unknown, estimating both the linear model and the variance of the noise. Our estimator is based on an efficient implementation of Projected Stochastic Gradient Descent on the negative log-likelihood of the truncated sample. Importantly, we show that the error of our estimates is asymptotically normal, and we use this to provide explicit confidence regions for our estimates.

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