We study contextual bandits in the presence of a stage-wise constraint (a constraint at each round), when the constraint must be satisfied both with high probability and in expectation. Obviously the setting where the constraint is in expectation is a relaxation of the one with high probability. We start with the linear case where both the contextual bandit problem (reward function) and the stage-wise constraint (cost function) are linear. In each of the high probability and in expectation settings, we propose an upper-confidence bound algorithm for the problem and prove a $T$-round regret bound for it. Our algorithms balance exploration and constraint satisfaction using a novel idea that scales the radii of the reward and cost confidence sets with different scaling factors. We also prove a lower-bound for this constrained problem, show how our algorithms and analyses can be extended to multiple constraints, and provide simulations to validate our theoretical results. In the high probability setting, we describe the minimum requirements for the action set in order for our algorithm to be tractable. In the setting that the constraint is in expectation, we further specialize our results to multi-armed bandits and propose a computationally efficient algorithm for this setting with regret analysis. Finally, we extend our results to the case where the reward and cost functions are both non-linear. We propose an algorithm for this case and prove a regret bound for it that characterize the function class complexity by the eluder dimension.
* 53 pages. arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:2006.10185
We propose and theoretically analyze an approach for planning with an approximate model in reinforcement learning that can reduce the adverse impact of model error. If the model is accurate enough, it accelerates the convergence to the true value function too. One of its key components is the MaxEnt Model Correction (MoCo) procedure that corrects the model's next-state distributions based on a Maximum Entropy density estimation formulation. Based on MoCo, we introduce the Model Correcting Value Iteration (MoCoVI) algorithm, and its sampled-based variant MoCoDyna. We show that MoCoVI and MoCoDyna's convergence can be much faster than the conventional model-free algorithms. Unlike traditional model-based algorithms, MoCoVI and MoCoDyna effectively utilize an approximate model and still converge to the correct value function.
The goal of an offline reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm is to learn optimal polices using historical (offline) data, without access to the environment for online exploration. One of the main challenges in offline RL is the distribution shift which refers to the difference between the state-action visitation distribution of the data generating policy and the learning policy. Many recent works have used the idea of pessimism for developing offline RL algorithms and characterizing their sample complexity under a relatively weak assumption of single policy concentrability. Different from the offline RL literature, the area of distributionally robust learning (DRL) offers a principled framework that uses a minimax formulation to tackle model mismatch between training and testing environments. In this work, we aim to bridge these two areas by showing that the DRL approach can be used to tackle the distributional shift problem in offline RL. In particular, we propose two offline RL algorithms using the DRL framework, for the tabular and linear function approximation settings, and characterize their sample complexity under the single policy concentrability assumption. We also demonstrate the superior performance our proposed algorithm through simulation experiments.
Preference elicitation plays a central role in interactive recommender systems. Most preference elicitation approaches use either item queries that ask users to select preferred items from a slate, or attribute queries that ask them to express their preferences for item characteristics. Unfortunately, users often wish to describe their preferences using soft attributes for which no ground-truth semantics is given. Leveraging concept activation vectors for soft attribute semantics, we develop novel preference elicitation methods that can accommodate soft attributes and bring together both item and attribute-based preference elicitation. Our techniques query users using both items and soft attributes to update the recommender system's belief about their preferences to improve recommendation quality. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods vis-a-vis competing approaches on both synthetic and real-world datasets.
Recommender systems (RSs) play a central role in connecting users to content, products, and services, matching candidate items to users based on their preferences. While traditional RSs rely on implicit user feedback signals, conversational RSs interact with users in natural language. In this work, we develop a comPelling, Precise, Personalized, Preference-relevant language model (P4LM) that recommends items to users while putting emphasis on explaining item characteristics and their relevance. P4LM uses the embedding space representation of a user's preferences to generate compelling responses that are factually-grounded and relevant w.r.t. the user's preferences. Moreover, we develop a joint reward function that measures precision, appeal, and personalization, which we use as AI-based feedback in a reinforcement learning-based language model framework. Using the MovieLens 25M dataset, we demonstrate that P4LM delivers compelling, personalized movie narratives to users.
Algorithms for offline bandits must optimize decisions in uncertain environments using only offline data. A compelling and increasingly popular objective in offline bandits is to learn a policy which achieves low Bayesian regret with high confidence. An appealing approach to this problem, inspired by recent offline reinforcement learning results, is to maximize a form of lower confidence bound (LCB). This paper proposes a new approach that directly minimizes upper bounds on Bayesian regret using efficient conic optimization solvers. Our bounds build on connections among Bayesian regret, Value-at-Risk (VaR), and chance-constrained optimization. Compared to prior work, our algorithm attains superior theoretical offline regret bounds and better results in numerical simulations. Finally, we provide some evidence that popular LCB-style algorithms may be unsuitable for minimizing Bayesian regret in offline bandits.
Learning from human feedback has been shown to improve text-to-image models. These techniques first learn a reward function that captures what humans care about in the task and then improve the models based on the learned reward function. Even though relatively simple approaches (e.g., rejection sampling based on reward scores) have been investigated, fine-tuning text-to-image models with the reward function remains challenging. In this work, we propose using online reinforcement learning (RL) to fine-tune text-to-image models. We focus on diffusion models, defining the fine-tuning task as an RL problem, and updating the pre-trained text-to-image diffusion models using policy gradient to maximize the feedback-trained reward. Our approach, coined DPOK, integrates policy optimization with KL regularization. We conduct an analysis of KL regularization for both RL fine-tuning and supervised fine-tuning. In our experiments, we show that DPOK is generally superior to supervised fine-tuning with respect to both image-text alignment and image quality.
Modern statistical estimation is often performed in a distributed setting where each sample belongs to a single user who shares their data with a central server. Users are typically concerned with preserving the privacy of their samples, and also with minimizing the amount of data they must transmit to the server. We give improved private and communication-efficient algorithms for estimating several popular measures of the entropy of a distribution. All of our algorithms have constant communication cost and satisfy local differential privacy. For a joint distribution over many variables whose conditional independence is given by a tree, we describe algorithms for estimating Shannon entropy that require a number of samples that is linear in the number of variables, compared to the quadratic sample complexity of prior work. We also describe an algorithm for estimating Gini entropy whose sample complexity has no dependence on the support size of the distribution and can be implemented using a single round of concurrent communication between the users and the server. In contrast, the previously best-known algorithm has high communication cost and requires the server to facilitate interaction between the users. Finally, we describe an algorithm for estimating collision entropy that generalizes the best known algorithm to the private and communication-efficient setting.
* Originally published at the 36th Conference on Neural Information
Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2022). This version corrects some errors in the
Optimizing static risk-averse objectives in Markov decision processes is challenging because they do not readily admit dynamic programming decompositions. Prior work has proposed to use a dynamic decomposition of risk measures that help to formulate dynamic programs on an augmented state space. This paper shows that several existing decompositions are inherently inexact, contradicting several claims in the literature. In particular, we give examples that show that popular decompositions for CVaR and EVaR risk measures are strict overestimates of the true risk values. However, an exact decomposition is possible for VaR, and we give a simple proof that illustrates the fundamental difference between VaR and CVaR dynamic programming properties.
Video captioning (VC) is a fast-moving, cross-disciplinary area of research that bridges work in the fields of computer vision, natural language processing (NLP), linguistics, and human-computer interaction. In essence, VC involves understanding a video and describing it with language. Captioning is used in a host of applications from creating more accessible interfaces (e.g., low-vision navigation) to video question answering (V-QA), video retrieval and content generation. This survey covers deep learning-based VC, including but, not limited to, attention-based architectures, graph networks, reinforcement learning, adversarial networks, dense video captioning (DVC), and more. We discuss the datasets and evaluation metrics used in the field, and limitations, applications, challenges, and future directions for VC.