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Abstract:Motivated by crowdsourcing, we consider a problem where we partially observe the correctness of the answers of $n$ experts on $d$ questions. In this paper, we assume that both the experts and the questions can be ordered, namely that the matrix $M$ containing the probability that expert $i$ answers correctly to question $j$ is bi-isotonic up to a permutation of it rows and columns. When $n=d$, this also encompasses the strongly stochastic transitive (SST) model from the tournament literature. Here, we focus on the relevant problem of deciphering small entries of $M$ from large entries of $M$, which is key in crowdsourcing for efficient allocation of workers to questions. More precisely, we aim at recovering a (or several) level set $p$ of the matrix up to a precision $h$, namely recovering resp. the sets of positions $(i,j)$ in $M$ such that $M_{ij}>p+h$ and $M_{i,j}<p-h$. We consider, as a loss measure, the number of misclassified entries. As our main result, we construct an efficient polynomial-time algorithm that turns out to be minimax optimal for this classification problem. This heavily contrasts with existing literature in the SST model where, for the stronger reconstruction loss, statistical-computational gaps have been conjectured. More generally, this shades light on the nature of statistical-computational gaps for permutations models.

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Abstract:We investigate the Active Clustering Problem (ACP). A learner interacts with an $N$-armed stochastic bandit with $d$-dimensional subGaussian feedback. There exists a hidden partition of the arms into $K$ groups, such that arms within the same group, share the same mean vector. The learner's task is to uncover this hidden partition with the smallest budget - i.e., the least number of observation - and with a probability of error smaller than a prescribed constant $\delta$. In this paper, (i) we derive a non-asymptotic lower bound for the budget, and (ii) we introduce the computationally efficient ACB algorithm, whose budget matches the lower bound in most regimes. We improve on the performance of a uniform sampling strategy. Importantly, contrary to the batch setting, we establish that there is no computation-information gap in the active setting.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of best arm identification in the multi-armed bandit model, under fixed confidence. Given a confidence input $\delta$, the goal is to identify the arm with the highest mean reward with a probability of at least 1 -- $\delta$, while minimizing the number of arm pulls. While the literature provides solutions to this problem under the assumption of independent arms distributions, we propose a more flexible scenario where arms can be dependent and rewards can be sampled simultaneously. This framework allows the learner to estimate the covariance among the arms distributions, enabling a more efficient identification of the best arm. The relaxed setting we propose is relevant in various applications, such as clinical trials, where similarities between patients or drugs suggest underlying correlations in the outcomes. We introduce new algorithms that adapt to the unknown covariance of the arms and demonstrate through theoretical guarantees that substantial improvement can be achieved over the standard setting. Additionally, we provide new lower bounds for the relaxed setting and present numerical simulations that support their theoretical findings.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of ranking n experts based on their performances on d tasks. We make a monotonicity assumption stating that for each pair of experts, one outperforms the other on all tasks. We consider the sequential setting where in each round, the learner has access to noisy evaluations of actively chosen pair of expert-task, given the information available up to the actual round. Given a confidence parameter $\delta$ $\in$ (0, 1), we provide strategies allowing to recover the correct ranking of experts and develop a bound on the total number of queries made by our algorithm that hold with probability at least 1 -- $\delta$. We show that our strategy is adaptive to the complexity of the problem (our bounds are instance dependent), and develop matching lower bounds up to a poly-logarithmic factor. Finally, we adapt our strategy to the relaxed problem of best expert identification and provide numerical simulation consistent with our theoretical results.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of estimating latent positions in a one-dimensional torus from pairwise affinities. The observed affinity between a pair of items is modeled as a noisy observation of a function $f(x^*_{i},x^*_{j})$ of the latent positions $x^*_{i},x^*_{j}$ of the two items on the torus. The affinity function $f$ is unknown, and it is only assumed to fulfill some shape constraints ensuring that $f(x,y)$ is large when the distance between $x$ and $y$ is small, and vice-versa. This non-parametric modeling offers a good flexibility to fit data. We introduce an estimation procedure that provably localizes all the latent positions with a maximum error of the order of $\sqrt{\log(n)/n}$, with high-probability. This rate is proven to be minimax optimal. A computationally efficient variant of the procedure is also analyzed under some more restrictive assumptions. Our general results can be instantiated to the problem of statistical seriation, leading to new bounds for the maximum error in the ordering.

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Abstract:We investigate the clustering performances of the relaxed $K$means in the setting of sub-Gaussian Mixture Model (sGMM) and Stochastic Block Model (SBM). After identifying the appropriate signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), we prove that the misclassification error decay exponentially fast with respect to this SNR. These partial recovery bounds for the relaxed $K$means improve upon results currently known in the sGMM setting. In the SBM setting, applying the relaxed $K$means SDP allows to handle general connection probabilities whereas other SDPs investigated in the literature are restricted to the assortative case (where within group probabilities are larger than between group probabilities). Again, this partial recovery bound complements the state-of-the-art results. All together, these results put forward the versatility of the relaxed $K$means.

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Abstract:Model-based clustering defines population level clusters relative to a model that embeds notions of similarity. Algorithms tailored to such models yield estimated clusters with a clear statistical interpretation. We take this view here and introduce the class of $G$-block covariance models as a background model for variable clustering. In such models, two variables in a cluster are deemed similar if they have similar associations will all other variables. This can arise, for instance, when groups of variables are noise corrupted versions of the same latent factor. We quantify the difficulty of clustering data generated from a $G$-block covariance model in terms of cluster proximity, measured with respect to two related, but different, cluster separation metrics. We derive minimax cluster separation thresholds, which are the metric values below which no algorithm can recover the model-defined clusters exactly, and show that they are different for the two metrics. We therefore develop two algorithms, COD and PECOK, tailored to G-block covariance models, and study their minimax-optimality with respect to each metric. Of independent interest is the fact that the analysis of the PECOK algorithm, which is based on a corrected convex relaxation of the popular $K$-means algorithm, provides the first statistical analysis of such algorithms for variable clustering. Additionally, we contrast our methods with another popular clustering method, spectral clustering, specialized to variable clustering, and show that ensuring exact cluster recovery via this method requires clusters to have a higher separation, relative to the minimax threshold. Extensive simulation studies, as well as our data analyses, confirm the applicability of our approach.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of detecting a tight community in a sparse random network. This is formalized as testing for the existence of a dense random subgraph in a random graph. Under the null hypothesis, the graph is a realization of an Erd\"os-R\'enyi graph on $N$ vertices and with connection probability $p_0$; under the alternative, there is an unknown subgraph on $n$ vertices where the connection probability is p1 > p0. In Arias-Castro and Verzelen (2012), we focused on the asymptotically dense regime where p0 is large enough that np0>(n/N)^{o(1)}. We consider here the asymptotically sparse regime where p0 is small enough that np0<(n/N)^{c0} for some c0>0. As before, we derive information theoretic lower bounds, and also establish the performance of various tests. Compared to our previous work, the arguments for the lower bounds are based on the same technology, but are substantially more technical in the details; also, the methods we study are different: besides a variant of the scan statistic, we study other statistics such as the size of the largest connected component, the number of triangles, the eigengap of the adjacency matrix, etc. Our detection bounds are sharp, except in the Poisson regime where we were not able to fully characterize the constant arising in the bound.

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Abstract:We formalize the problem of detecting a community in a network into testing whether in a given (random) graph there is a subgraph that is unusually dense. We observe an undirected and unweighted graph on N nodes. Under the null hypothesis, the graph is a realization of an Erd\"os-R\'enyi graph with probability p0. Under the (composite) alternative, there is a subgraph of n nodes where the probability of connection is p1 > p0. We derive a detection lower bound for detecting such a subgraph in terms of N, n, p0, p1 and exhibit a test that achieves that lower bound. We do this both when p0 is known and unknown. We also consider the problem of testing in polynomial-time. As an aside, we consider the problem of detecting a clique, which is intimately related to the planted clique problem. Our focus in this paper is in the quasi-normal regime where n p0 is either bounded away from zero, or tends to zero slowly.

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