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Abstract:We study security threats to Markov games due to information asymmetry and misinformation. We consider an attacker player who can spread misinformation about its reward function to influence the robust victim player's behavior. Given a fixed fake reward function, we derive the victim's policy under worst-case rationality and present polynomial-time algorithms to compute the attacker's optimal worst-case policy based on linear programming and backward induction. Then, we provide an efficient inception ("planting an idea in someone's mind") attack algorithm to find the optimal fake reward function within a restricted set of reward functions with dominant strategies. Importantly, our methods exploit the universal assumption of rationality to compute attacks efficiently. Thus, our work exposes a security vulnerability arising from standard game assumptions under misinformation.

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Abstract:We study robust Markov games (RMG) with $s$-rectangular uncertainty. We show a general equivalence between computing a robust Nash equilibrium (RNE) of a $s$-rectangular RMG and computing a Nash equilibrium (NE) of an appropriately constructed regularized MG. The equivalence result yields a planning algorithm for solving $s$-rectangular RMGs, as well as provable robustness guarantees for policies computed using regularized methods. However, we show that even for just reward-uncertain two-player zero-sum matrix games, computing an RNE is PPAD-hard. Consequently, we derive a special uncertainty structure called efficient player-decomposability and show that RNE for two-player zero-sum RMG in this class can be provably solved in polynomial time. This class includes commonly used uncertainty sets such as $L_1$ and $L_\infty$ ball uncertainty sets.

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Authors:Jeremy McMahan

Abstract:We present a novel algorithm that efficiently computes near-optimal deterministic policies for constrained reinforcement learning (CRL) problems. Our approach combines three key ideas: (1) value-demand augmentation, (2) action-space approximate dynamic programming, and (3) time-space rounding. Under mild reward assumptions, our algorithm constitutes a fully polynomial-time approximation scheme (FPTAS) for a diverse class of cost criteria. This class requires that the cost of a policy can be computed recursively over both time and (state) space, which includes classical expectation, almost sure, and anytime constraints. Our work not only provides provably efficient algorithms to address real-world challenges in decision-making but also offers a unifying theory for the efficient computation of constrained deterministic policies.

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Abstract:To ensure the usefulness of Reinforcement Learning (RL) in real systems, it is crucial to ensure they are robust to noise and adversarial attacks. In adversarial RL, an external attacker has the power to manipulate the victim agent's interaction with the environment. We study the full class of online manipulation attacks, which include (i) state attacks, (ii) observation attacks (which are a generalization of perceived-state attacks), (iii) action attacks, and (iv) reward attacks. We show the attacker's problem of designing a stealthy attack that maximizes its own expected reward, which often corresponds to minimizing the victim's value, is captured by a Markov Decision Process (MDP) that we call a meta-MDP since it is not the true environment but a higher level environment induced by the attacked interaction. We show that the attacker can derive optimal attacks by planning in polynomial time or learning with polynomial sample complexity using standard RL techniques. We argue that the optimal defense policy for the victim can be computed as the solution to a stochastic Stackelberg game, which can be further simplified into a partially-observable turn-based stochastic game (POTBSG). Neither the attacker nor the victim would benefit from deviating from their respective optimal policies, thus such solutions are truly robust. Although the defense problem is NP-hard, we show that optimal Markovian defenses can be computed (learned) in polynomial time (sample complexity) in many scenarios.

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Abstract:We introduce and study constrained Markov Decision Processes (cMDPs) with anytime constraints. An anytime constraint requires the agent to never violate its budget at any point in time, almost surely. Although Markovian policies are no longer sufficient, we show that there exist optimal deterministic policies augmented with cumulative costs. In fact, we present a fixed-parameter tractable reduction from anytime-constrained cMDPs to unconstrained MDPs. Our reduction yields planning and learning algorithms that are time and sample-efficient for tabular cMDPs so long as the precision of the costs is logarithmic in the size of the cMDP. However, we also show that computing non-trivial approximately optimal policies is NP-hard in general. To circumvent this bottleneck, we design provable approximation algorithms that efficiently compute or learn an arbitrarily accurate approximately feasible policy with optimal value so long as the maximum supported cost is bounded by a polynomial in the cMDP or the absolute budget. Given our hardness results, our approximation guarantees are the best possible under worst-case analysis.

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Abstract:We study the game modification problem, where a benevolent game designer or a malevolent adversary modifies the reward function of a zero-sum Markov game so that a target deterministic or stochastic policy profile becomes the unique Markov perfect Nash equilibrium and has a value within a target range, in a way that minimizes the modification cost. We characterize the set of policy profiles that can be installed as the unique equilibrium of some game, and establish sufficient and necessary conditions for successful installation. We propose an efficient algorithm, which solves a convex optimization problem with linear constraints and then performs random perturbation, to obtain a modification plan with a near-optimal cost.

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Abstract:Many real-world games suffer from information asymmetry: one player is only aware of their own payoffs while the other player has the full game information. Examples include the critical domain of security games and adversarial multi-agent reinforcement learning. Information asymmetry renders traditional solution concepts such as Strong Stackelberg Equilibrium (SSE) and Robust-Optimization Equilibrium (ROE) inoperative. We propose a novel solution concept called VISER (Victim Is Secure, Exploiter best-Responds). VISER enables an external observer to predict the outcome of such games. In particular, for security applications, VISER allows the victim to better defend itself while characterizing the most damaging attacks available to the attacker. We show that each player's VISER strategy can be computed independently in polynomial time using linear programming (LP). We also extend VISER to its Markov-perfect counterpart for Markov games, which can be solved efficiently using a series of LPs.

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Abstract:We characterize offline data poisoning attacks on Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL), where an attacker may change a data set in an attempt to install a (potentially fictitious) unique Markov-perfect Nash equilibrium. We propose the unique Nash set, namely the set of games, specified by their Q functions, with a specific joint policy being the unique Nash equilibrium. The unique Nash set is central to poisoning attacks because the attack is successful if and only if data poisoning pushes all plausible games inside it. The unique Nash set generalizes the reward polytope commonly used in inverse reinforcement learning to MARL. For zero-sum Markov games, both the inverse Nash set and the set of plausible games induced by data are polytopes in the Q function space. We exhibit a linear program to efficiently compute the optimal poisoning attack. Our work sheds light on the structure of data poisoning attacks on offline MARL, a necessary step before one can design more robust MARL algorithms.

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Abstract:The Pandora's Box problem asks to find a search strategy over $n$ alternatives given stochastic information about their values, aiming to minimize the sum of the search cost and the value of the chosen alternative. Even though the case of independently distributed values is well understood, our algorithmic understanding of the problem is very limited once the independence assumption is dropped. Our work aims to characterize the complexity of approximating the Pandora's Box problem under correlated value distributions. To that end, we present a general reduction to a simpler version of Pandora's Box, that only asks to find a value below a certain threshold, and eliminates the need to reason about future values that will arise during the search. Using this general tool, we study two cases of correlation; the case of explicitly given distributions of support $m$ and the case of mixtures of $m$ product distributions. $\bullet$ In the first case, we connect Pandora's Box to the well studied problem of Optimal Decision Tree, obtaining an $O(\log m)$ approximation but also showing that the problem is strictly easier as it is equivalent (up to constant factors) to the Uniform Decision Tree problem. $\bullet$ In the case of mixtures of product distributions, the problem is again related to the noisy variant of Optimal Decision Tree which is significantly more challenging. We give a constant-factor approximation that runs in time $n^{ \tilde O( m^2/\varepsilon^2 ) }$ for $m$ mixture components whose marginals on every alternative are either identical or separated in TV distance by $\varepsilon$.

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