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Abstract:Learning the graph topology of a complex network is challenging due to limited data availability and imprecise data models. A common remedy in existing works is to incorporate priors such as sparsity or modularity which highlight on the structural property of graph topology. We depart from these approaches to develop priors that are directly inspired by complex network dynamics. Focusing on social networks with actions modeled by equilibriums of linear quadratic games, we postulate that the social network topologies are optimized with respect to a social welfare function. Utilizing this prior knowledge, we propose a network games induced regularizer to assist graph learning. We then formulate the graph topology learning problem as a bilevel program. We develop a two-timescale gradient algorithm to tackle the latter. We draw theoretical insights on the optimal graph structure of the bilevel program and show that they agree with the topology in several man-made networks. Empirically, we demonstrate the proposed formulation gives rise to reliable estimate of graph topology.

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Abstract:Stochastic decentralized optimization algorithms often suffer from issues such as synchronization overhead and intermittent communication. This paper proposes a $\underline{\rm F}$ully $\underline{\rm S}$tochastic $\underline{\rm P}$rimal $\underline{\rm D}$ual gradient $\underline{\rm A}$lgorithm (FSPDA) that suggests an asynchronous decentralized procedure with (i) sparsified non-blocking communication on random undirected graphs and (ii) local stochastic gradient updates. FSPDA allows multiple local gradient steps to accelerate convergence to stationarity while finding a consensual solution with stochastic primal-dual updates. For problems with smooth (possibly non-convex) objective function, we show that FSPDA converges to an $\mathrm{\mathcal{O}( {\it \sigma /\sqrt{nT}} )}$-stationary solution after $\mathrm{\it T}$ iterations without assuming data heterogeneity. The performance of FSPDA is on par with state-of-the-art algorithms whose convergence depend on static graph and synchronous updates. To our best knowledge, FSPDA is the first asynchronous algorithm that converges exactly under the non-convex setting. Numerical experiments are presented to show the benefits of FSPDA.

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Abstract:Aligning human preference and value is an important requirement for contemporary foundation models. State-of-the-art techniques such as Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) often consist of two stages: 1) supervised fine-tuning (SFT), where the model is fine-tuned by learning from human demonstration data; 2) Preference learning, where preference data is used to learn a reward model, which is in turn used by a reinforcement learning (RL) step to fine-tune the model. Such reward model serves as a proxy to human preference, and it is critical to guide the RL step towards improving the model quality. In this work, we argue that the SFT stage significantly benefits from learning a reward model as well. Instead of using the human demonstration data directly via supervised learning, we propose to leverage an Inverse Reinforcement Learning (IRL) technique to (explicitly or implicitly) build an reward model, while learning the policy model. This approach leads to new SFT algorithms that are not only efficient to implement, but also promote the ability to distinguish between the preferred and non-preferred continuations. Moreover, we identify a connection between the proposed IRL based approach, and certain self-play approach proposed recently, and showed that self-play is a special case of modeling a reward-learning agent. Theoretically, we show that the proposed algorithms converge to the stationary solutions of the IRL problem. Empirically, we align 1B and 7B models using proposed methods and evaluate them on a reward benchmark model and the HuggingFace Open LLM Leaderboard. The proposed methods show significant performance improvement over existing SFT approaches. Our results indicate that it is beneficial to explicitly or implicitly leverage reward learning throughout the entire alignment process.

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Abstract:We consider the distributed learning problem with data dispersed across multiple workers under the orchestration of a central server. Asynchronous Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) has been widely explored in such a setting to reduce the synchronization overhead associated with parallelization. However, the performance of asynchronous SGD algorithms often depends on a bounded dissimilarity condition among the workers' local data, a condition that can drastically affect their efficiency when the workers' data are highly heterogeneous. To overcome this limitation, we introduce the \textit{dual-delayed asynchronous SGD (DuDe-ASGD)} algorithm designed to neutralize the adverse effects of data heterogeneity. DuDe-ASGD makes full use of stale stochastic gradients from all workers during asynchronous training, leading to two distinct time lags in the model parameters and data samples utilized in the server's iterations. Furthermore, by adopting an incremental aggregation strategy, DuDe-ASGD maintains a per-iteration computational cost that is on par with traditional asynchronous SGD algorithms. Our analysis demonstrates that DuDe-ASGD achieves a near-minimax-optimal convergence rate for smooth nonconvex problems, even when the data across workers are extremely heterogeneous. Numerical experiments indicate that DuDe-ASGD compares favorably with existing asynchronous and synchronous SGD-based algorithms.

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Abstract:The application of graph signal processing (GSP) on partially observed graph signals with missing nodes has gained attention recently. This is because processing data from large graphs are difficult, if not impossible due to the lack of availability of full observations. Many prior works have been developed using the assumption that the generated graph signals are smooth or low pass filtered. This paper treats a blind graph filter detection problem under this context. We propose a detector that certifies whether the partially observed graph signals are low pass filtered, without requiring the graph topology knowledge. As an example application, our detector leads to a pre-screening method to filter out non low pass signals and thus robustify the prior GSP algorithms. We also bound the sample complexity of our detector in terms of the class of filters, number of observed nodes, etc. Numerical experiments verify the efficacy of our method.

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Abstract:Clipped stochastic gradient descent (SGD) algorithms are among the most popular algorithms for privacy preserving optimization that reduces the leakage of users' identity in model training. This paper studies the convergence properties of these algorithms in a performative prediction setting, where the data distribution may shift due to the deployed prediction model. For example, the latter is caused by strategical users during the training of loan policy for banks. Our contributions are two-fold. First, we show that the straightforward implementation of a projected clipped SGD (PCSGD) algorithm may converge to a biased solution compared to the performative stable solution. We quantify the lower and upper bound for the magnitude of the bias and demonstrate a bias amplification phenomenon where the bias grows with the sensitivity of the data distribution. Second, we suggest two remedies to the bias amplification effect. The first one utilizes an optimal step size design for PCSGD that takes the privacy guarantee into account. The second one uses the recently proposed DiceSGD algorithm [Zhang et al., 2024]. We show that the latter can successfully remove the bias and converge to the performative stable solution. Numerical experiments verify our analysis.

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Abstract:A key challenge in contrastive learning is to generate negative samples from a large sample set to contrast with positive samples, for learning better encoding of the data. These negative samples often follow a softmax distribution which are dynamically updated during the training process. However, sampling from this distribution is non-trivial due to the high computational costs in computing the partition function. In this paper, we propose an Efficient Markov Chain Monte Carlo negative sampling method for Contrastive learning (EMC$^2$). We follow the global contrastive learning loss as introduced in SogCLR, and propose EMC$^2$ which utilizes an adaptive Metropolis-Hastings subroutine to generate hardness-aware negative samples in an online fashion during the optimization. We prove that EMC$^2$ finds an $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{T})$-stationary point of the global contrastive loss in $T$ iterations. Compared to prior works, EMC$^2$ is the first algorithm that exhibits global convergence (to stationarity) regardless of the choice of batch size while exhibiting low computation and memory cost. Numerical experiments validate that EMC$^2$ is effective with small batch training and achieves comparable or better performance than baseline algorithms. We report the results for pre-training image encoders on STL-10 and Imagenet-100.

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Abstract:This paper considers a type of incremental aggregated gradient (IAG) method for large-scale distributed optimization. The IAG method is well suited for the parameter server architecture as the latter can easily aggregate potentially staled gradients contributed by workers. Although the convergence of IAG in the case of deterministic gradient is well known, there are only a few results for the case of its stochastic variant based on streaming data. Considering strongly convex optimization, this paper shows that the streaming IAG method achieves linear speedup when the workers are updating frequently enough, even if the data sample distribution across workers are heterogeneous. We show that the expected squared distance to optimal solution decays at O((1+T)/(nt)), where $n$ is the number of workers, t is the iteration number, and T/n is the update frequency of workers. Our analysis involves careful treatments of the conditional expectations with staled gradients and a recursive system with both delayed and noise terms, which are new to the analysis of IAG-type algorithms. Numerical results are presented to verify our findings.

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Abstract:Classical graph matching aims to find a node correspondence between two unlabeled graphs of known topologies. This problem has a wide range of applications, from matching identities in social networks to identifying similar biological network functions across species. However, when the underlying graphs are unknown, the use of conventional graph matching methods requires inferring the graph topologies first, a process that is highly sensitive to observation errors. In this paper, we tackle the blind graph matching problem with unknown underlying graphs directly using observations of graph signals, which are generated from graph filters applied to graph signal excitations. We propose to construct sample covariance matrices from the observed signals and match the nodes based on the selected sample eigenvectors. Our analysis shows that the blind matching outcome converges to the result obtained with known graph topologies when the signal sampling size is large and the signal noise is small. Numerical results showcase the performance improvement of the proposed algorithm compared to matching two estimated underlying graphs learned from the graph signals.

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Abstract:This paper proposes a blind detection problem for low pass graph signals. Without assuming knowledge of the graph topology in advance, we aim to detect if a set of graph signal observations are generated from a low pass graph filter. Our problem is motivated by the widely adopted assumption of low pass (a.k.a.~smooth) signals required by many existing works in graph signal processing (GSP), as well as the longstanding problem of network dynamics identification. Focusing on detecting low pass graph signals whose cutoff frequency coincides with the number of clusters present, our key idea is to develop blind detector leveraging the unique spectral pattern exhibited by low pass graph signals. We analyze the sample complexity of these detectors considering the effects of graph filter's properties, random delays. We show novel applications of the blind detector on robustifying graph learning, identifying antagonistic ties in opinion dynamics, and detecting anomalies in power systems. Numerical experiments validate our findings.

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