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Abstract:Representation learning is a powerful tool that enables learning over large multitudes of agents or domains by enforcing that all agents operate on a shared set of learned features. However, many robotics or controls applications that would benefit from collaboration operate in settings with changing environments and goals, whereas most guarantees for representation learning are stated for static settings. Toward rigorously establishing the benefit of representation learning in dynamic settings, we analyze the regret of multi-task representation learning for linear-quadratic control. This setting introduces unique challenges. Firstly, we must account for and balance the $\textit{misspecification}$ introduced by an approximate representation. Secondly, we cannot rely on the parameter update schemes of single-task online LQR, for which least-squares often suffices, and must devise a novel scheme to ensure sufficient improvement. We demonstrate that for settings where exploration is "benign", the regret of any agent after $T$ timesteps scales as $\tilde O(\sqrt{T/H})$, where $H$ is the number of agents. In settings with "difficult" exploration, the regret scales as $\tilde{\mathcal O}(\sqrt{d_u d_\theta} \sqrt{T} + T^{3/4}/H^{1/5})$, where $d_x$ is the state-space dimension, $d_u$ is the input dimension, and $d_\theta$ is the task-specific parameter count. In both cases, by comparing to the minimax single-task regret $\tilde{\mathcal O}(\sqrt{d_x d_u^2}\sqrt{T})$, we see a benefit of a large number of agents. Notably, in the difficult exploration case, by sharing a representation across tasks, the effective task-specific parameter count can often be small $d_\theta < d_x d_u$. Lastly, we provide numerical validation of the trends we predict.

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Abstract:We investigate the problem of learning Linear Quadratic Regulators (LQR) in a multi-task, heterogeneous, and model-free setting. We characterize the stability and personalization guarantees of a Policy Gradient-based (PG) Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning (MAML) (Finn et al., 2017) approach for the LQR problem under different task-heterogeneity settings. We show that the MAML-LQR approach produces a stabilizing controller close to each task-specific optimal controller up to a task-heterogeneity bias for both model-based and model-free settings. Moreover, in the model-based setting, we show that this controller is achieved with a linear convergence rate, which improves upon sub-linear rates presented in existing MAML-LQR work. In contrast to existing MAML-LQR results, our theoretical guarantees demonstrate that the learned controller can efficiently adapt to unseen LQR tasks.

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Abstract:We investigate the problem of learning an $\epsilon$-approximate solution for the discrete-time Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) problem via a Stochastic Variance-Reduced Policy Gradient (SVRPG) approach. Whilst policy gradient methods have proven to converge linearly to the optimal solution of the model-free LQR problem, the substantial requirement for two-point cost queries in gradient estimations may be intractable, particularly in applications where obtaining cost function evaluations at two distinct control input configurations is exceptionally costly. To this end, we propose an oracle-efficient approach. Our method combines both one-point and two-point estimations in a dual-loop variance-reduced algorithm. It achieves an approximate optimal solution with only $O\left(\log\left(1/\epsilon\right)^{\beta}\right)$ two-point cost information for $\beta \in (0,1)$.

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Abstract:A powerful concept behind much of the recent progress in machine learning is the extraction of common features across data from heterogeneous sources or tasks. Intuitively, using all of one's data to learn a common representation function benefits both computational effort and statistical generalization by leaving a smaller number of parameters to fine-tune on a given task. Toward theoretically grounding these merits, we propose a general setting of recovering linear operators $M$ from noisy vector measurements $y = Mx + w$, where the covariates $x$ may be both non-i.i.d. and non-isotropic. We demonstrate that existing isotropy-agnostic meta-learning approaches incur biases on the representation update, which causes the scaling of the noise terms to lose favorable dependence on the number of source tasks. This in turn can cause the sample complexity of representation learning to be bottlenecked by the single-task data size. We introduce an adaptation, $\texttt{De-bias & Feature-Whiten}$ ($\texttt{DFW}$), of the popular alternating minimization-descent (AMD) scheme proposed in Collins et al., (2021), and establish linear convergence to the optimal representation with noise level scaling down with the $\textit{total}$ source data size. This leads to generalization bounds on the same order as an oracle empirical risk minimizer. We verify the vital importance of $\texttt{DFW}$ on various numerical simulations. In particular, we show that vanilla alternating-minimization descent fails catastrophically even for iid, but mildly non-isotropic data. Our analysis unifies and generalizes prior work, and provides a flexible framework for a wider range of applications, such as in controls and dynamical systems.

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Abstract:We address the problem of learning linear system models from observing multiple trajectories from different system dynamics. This framework encompasses a collaborative scenario where several systems seeking to estimate their dynamics are partitioned into clusters according to their system similarity. Thus, the systems within the same cluster can benefit from the observations made by the others. Considering this framework, we present an algorithm where each system alternately estimates its cluster identity and performs an estimation of its dynamics. This is then aggregated to update the model of each cluster. We show that under mild assumptions, our algorithm correctly estimates the cluster identities and achieves an approximate sample complexity that scales inversely with the number of systems in the cluster, thus facilitating a more efficient and personalized system identification process.

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Abstract:We study the problem of learning a linear system model from the observations of $M$ clients. The catch: Each client is observing data from a different dynamical system. This work addresses the question of how multiple clients collaboratively learn dynamical models in the presence of heterogeneity. We pose this problem as a federated learning problem and characterize the tension between achievable performance and system heterogeneity. Furthermore, our federated sample complexity result provides a constant factor improvement over the single agent setting. Finally, we describe a meta federated learning algorithm, FedSysID, that leverages existing federated algorithms at the client level.

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