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Xiao-Yue Gong, Mark Sellke

We study pure exploration with infinitely many bandit arms generated i.i.d. from an unknown distribution. Our goal is to efficiently select a single high quality arm whose average reward is, with probability $1-\delta$, within $\varepsilon$ of being among the top $\eta$-fraction of arms; this is a natural adaptation of the classical PAC guarantee for infinite action sets. We consider both the fixed confidence and fixed budget settings, aiming respectively for minimal expected and fixed sample complexity. For fixed confidence, we give an algorithm with expected sample complexity $O\left(\frac{\log (1/\eta)\log (1/\delta)}{\eta\varepsilon^2}\right)$. This is optimal except for the $\log (1/\eta)$ factor, and the $\delta$-dependence closes a quadratic gap in the literature. For fixed budget, we show the asymptotically optimal sample complexity as $\delta\to 0$ is $c^{-1}\log(1/\delta)\big(\log\log(1/\delta)\big)^2$ to leading order. Equivalently, the optimal failure probability given exactly $N$ samples decays as $\exp\big(-cN/\log^2 N\big)$, up to a factor $1\pm o_N(1)$ inside the exponent. The constant $c$ depends explicitly on the problem parameters (including the unknown arm distribution) through a certain Fisher information distance. Even the strictly super-linear dependence on $\log(1/\delta)$ was not known and resolves a question of Grossman and Moshkovitz (FOCS 2016, SIAM Journal on Computing 2020).

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Mark Sellke

We study the sample complexity of learning ReLU neural networks from the point of view of generalization. Given norm constraints on the weight matrices, a common approach is to estimate the Rademacher complexity of the associated function class. Previously Golowich-Rakhlin-Shamir (2020) obtained a bound independent of the network size (scaling with a product of Frobenius norms) except for a factor of the square-root depth. We give a refinement which often has no explicit depth-dependence at all.

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Mark Sellke

We advance the study of incentivized bandit exploration, in which arm choices are viewed as recommendations and are required to be Bayesian incentive compatible. Recent work has shown under certain independence assumptions that after collecting enough initial samples, the popular Thompson sampling algorithm becomes incentive compatible. We give an analog of this result for linear bandits, where the independence of the prior is replaced by a natural convexity condition. This opens up the possibility of efficient and regret-optimal incentivized exploration in high-dimensional action spaces. In the semibandit model, we also improve the sample complexity for the pre-Thompson sampling phase of initial data collection.

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Sitan Chen, Brice Huang, Jerry Li, Allen Liu, Mark Sellke

We consider the classic question of state tomography: given copies of an unknown quantum state $\rho\in\mathbb{C}^{d\times d}$, output $\widehat{\rho}$ for which $\|\rho - \widehat{\rho}\|_{\mathsf{tr}} \le \varepsilon$. When one is allowed to make coherent measurements entangled across all copies, $\Theta(d^2/\varepsilon^2)$ copies are necessary and sufficient [Haah et al. '17, O'Donnell-Wright '16]. Unfortunately, the protocols achieving this rate incur large quantum memory overheads that preclude implementation on current or near-term devices. On the other hand, the best known protocol using incoherent (single-copy) measurements uses $O(d^3/\varepsilon^2)$ copies [Kueng-Rauhut-Terstiege '17], and multiple papers have posed it as an open question to understand whether or not this rate is tight. In this work, we fully resolve this question, by showing that any protocol using incoherent measurements, even if they are chosen adaptively, requires $\Omega(d^3/\varepsilon^2)$ copies, matching the upper bound of [Kueng-Rauhut-Terstiege '17]. We do so by a new proof technique which directly bounds the "tilt" of the posterior distribution after measurements, which yields a surprisingly short proof of our lower bound, and which we believe may be of independent interest.

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Allen Liu, Mark Sellke

We study the stochastic multi-player multi-armed bandit problem. In this problem, $m$ players cooperate to maximize their total reward from $K > m$ arms. However the players cannot communicate and are penalized (e.g. receive no reward) if they pull the same arm at the same time. We ask whether it is possible to obtain optimal instance-dependent regret $\tilde{O}(1/\Delta)$ where $\Delta$ is the gap between the $m$-th and $m+1$-st best arms. Such guarantees were recently achieved in a model allowing the players to implicitly communicate through intentional collisions. We show that with no communication at all, such guarantees are, surprisingly, not achievable. In fact, obtaining the optimal $\tilde{O}(1/\Delta)$ regret for some regimes of $\Delta$ necessarily implies strictly sub-optimal regret in other regimes. Our main result is a complete characterization of the Pareto optimal instance-dependent trade-offs that are possible with no communication. Our algorithm generalizes that of Bubeck, Budzinski, and the second author and enjoys the same strong no-collision property, while our lower bound is based on a topological obstruction and holds even under full information.

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Yining Chen, Elan Rosenfeld, Mark Sellke, Tengyu Ma, Andrej Risteski

Domain generalization aims at performing well on unseen test environments with data from a limited number of training environments. Despite a proliferation of proposal algorithms for this task, assessing their performance, both theoretically and empirically is still very challenging. Moreover, recent approaches such as Invariant Risk Minimization (IRM) require a prohibitively large number of training environments - linear in the dimension of the spurious feature space $d_s$ - even on simple data models like the one proposed by [Rosenfeld et al., 2021]. Under a variant of this model, we show that both ERM and IRM cannot generalize with $o(d_s)$ environments. We then present a new algorithm based on performing iterative feature matching that is guaranteed with high probability to yield a predictor that generalizes after seeing only $O(\log{d_s})$ environments.

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Sébastien Bubeck, Mark Sellke

Classically, data interpolation with a parametrized model class is possible as long as the number of parameters is larger than the number of equations to be satisfied. A puzzling phenomenon in deep learning is that models are trained with many more parameters than what this classical theory would suggest. We propose a theoretical explanation for this phenomenon. We prove that for a broad class of data distributions and model classes, overparametrization is necessary if one wants to interpolate the data smoothly. Namely we show that smooth interpolation requires $d$ times more parameters than mere interpolation, where $d$ is the ambient data dimension. We prove this universal law of robustness for any smoothly parametrized function class with polynomial size weights, and any covariate distribution verifying isoperimetry. In the case of two-layers neural networks and Gaussian covariates, this law was conjectured in prior work by Bubeck, Li and Nagaraj. We also give an interpretation of our result as an improved generalization bound for model classes consisting of smooth functions.

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Timothy Chu, Gary Miller, Shyam Narayanan, Mark Sellke

What functions, when applied to the pairwise Manhattan distances between any $n$ points, result in the Manhattan distances between another set of $n$ points? In this paper, we show that a function has this property if and only if it is Bernstein. This class of functions admits several classical analytic characterizations and includes $f(x) = x^s$ for $0 \leq s \leq 1$ as well as $f(x) = 1-e^{-xt}$ for any $t \geq 0$. While it was previously known that Bernstein functions had this property, it was not known that these were the only such functions. Our results are a natural extension of the work of Schoenberg from 1938, who addressed this question for Euclidean distances. Schoenberg's work has been applied in probability theory, harmonic analysis, machine learning, theoretical computer science, and more. We additionally show that if and only if $f$ is completely monotone, there exists \mbox{$F:\ell_1 \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^n$} for any $x_1, \ldots x_n \in \ell_1$ such that $f(\|x_i - x_j\|_1) = \langle F(x_i), F(x_j) \rangle$. Previously, it was known that completely monotone functions had this property, but it was not known they were the only such functions. The same result but with negative type distances instead of $\ell_1$ is the foundation of all kernel methods in machine learning, and was proven by Schoenberg in 1942.

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Sébastien Bubeck, Thomas Budzinski, Mark Sellke

We consider the cooperative multi-player version of the stochastic multi-armed bandit problem. We study the regime where the players cannot communicate but have access to shared randomness. In prior work by the first two authors, a strategy for this regime was constructed for two players and three arms, with regret $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{T})$, and with no collisions at all between the players (with very high probability). In this paper we show that these properties (near-optimal regret and no collisions at all) are achievable for any number of players and arms. At a high level, the previous strategy heavily relied on a $2$-dimensional geometric intuition that was difficult to generalize in higher dimensions, while here we take a more combinatorial route to build the new strategy.

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