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Abstract:We study the problem of recovering Gaussian data under adversarial corruptions when the noises are low-rank and the corruptions are on the coordinate level. Concretely, we assume that the Gaussian noises lie in an unknown $k$-dimensional subspace $U \subseteq \mathbb{R}^d$, and $s$ randomly chosen coordinates of each data point fall into the control of an adversary. This setting models the scenario of learning from high-dimensional yet structured data that are transmitted through a highly-noisy channel, so that the data points are unlikely to be entirely clean. Our main result is an efficient algorithm that, when $ks^2 = O(d)$, recovers every single data point up to a nearly-optimal $\ell_1$ error of $\tilde O(ks/d)$ in expectation. At the core of our proof is a new analysis of the well-known Basis Pursuit (BP) method for recovering a sparse signal, which is known to succeed under additional assumptions (e.g., incoherence or the restricted isometry property) on the underlying subspace $U$. In contrast, we present a novel approach via studying a natural combinatorial problem and show that, over the randomness in the support of the sparse signal, a high-probability error bound is possible even if the subspace $U$ is arbitrary.

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Abstract:Mixture models arise in many regression problems, but most methods have seen limited adoption partly due to these algorithms' highly-tailored and model-specific nature. On the other hand, transformers are flexible, neural sequence models that present the intriguing possibility of providing general-purpose prediction methods, even in this mixture setting. In this work, we investigate the hypothesis that transformers can learn an optimal predictor for mixtures of regressions. We construct a generative process for a mixture of linear regressions for which the decision-theoretic optimal procedure is given by data-driven exponential weights on a finite set of parameters. We observe that transformers achieve low mean-squared error on data generated via this process. By probing the transformer's output at inference time, we also show that transformers typically make predictions that are close to the optimal predictor. Our experiments also demonstrate that transformers can learn mixtures of regressions in a sample-efficient fashion and are somewhat robust to distribution shifts. We complement our experimental observations by proving constructively that the decision-theoretic optimal procedure is indeed implementable by a transformer.

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Abstract:Motivated by recent advances in large language models for Natural Language Processing (NLP), we design a time-series foundation model for forecasting whose out-of-the-box zero-shot performance on a variety of public datasets comes close to the accuracy of state-of-the-art supervised forecasting models for each individual dataset. Our model is based on pretraining a patched-decoder style attention model on a large time-series corpus, and can work well across different forecasting history lengths, prediction lengths and temporal granularities.

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Abstract:In many learning applications, data are collected from multiple sources, each providing a \emph{batch} of samples that by itself is insufficient to learn its input-output relationship. A common approach assumes that the sources fall in one of several unknown subgroups, each with an unknown input distribution and input-output relationship. We consider one of this setup's most fundamental and important manifestations where the output is a noisy linear combination of the inputs, and there are $k$ subgroups, each with its own regression vector. Prior work~\cite{kong2020meta} showed that with abundant small-batches, the regression vectors can be learned with only few, $\tilde\Omega( k^{3/2})$, batches of medium-size with $\tilde\Omega(\sqrt k)$ samples each. However, the paper requires that the input distribution for all $k$ subgroups be isotropic Gaussian, and states that removing this assumption is an ``interesting and challenging problem". We propose a novel gradient-based algorithm that improves on the existing results in several ways. It extends the applicability of the algorithm by: (1) allowing the subgroups' underlying input distributions to be different, unknown, and heavy-tailed; (2) recovering all subgroups followed by a significant proportion of batches even for infinite $k$; (3) removing the separation requirement between the regression vectors; (4) reducing the number of batches and allowing smaller batch sizes.

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Abstract:Recent work has shown that simple linear models can outperform several Transformer based approaches in long term time-series forecasting. Motivated by this, we propose a Multi-layer Perceptron (MLP) based encoder-decoder model, Time-series Dense Encoder (TiDE), for long-term time-series forecasting that enjoys the simplicity and speed of linear models while also being able to handle covariates and non-linear dependencies. Theoretically, we prove that the simplest linear analogue of our model can achieve near optimal error rate for linear dynamical systems (LDS) under some assumptions. Empirically, we show that our method can match or outperform prior approaches on popular long-term time-series forecasting benchmarks while being 5-10x faster than the best Transformer based model.

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Abstract:We begin the study of list-decodable linear regression using batches. In this setting only an $\alpha \in (0,1]$ fraction of the batches are genuine. Each genuine batch contains $\ge n$ i.i.d. samples from a common unknown distribution and the remaining batches may contain arbitrary or even adversarial samples. We derive a polynomial time algorithm that for any $n\ge \tilde \Omega(1/\alpha)$ returns a list of size $\mathcal O(1/\alpha^2)$ such that one of the items in the list is close to the true regression parameter. The algorithm requires only $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(d/\alpha^2)$ genuine batches and works under fairly general assumptions on the distribution. The results demonstrate the utility of batch structure, which allows for the first polynomial time algorithm for list-decodable regression, which may be impossible for the non-batch setting, as suggested by a recent SQ lower bound \cite{diakonikolas2021statistical} for the non-batch setting.

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Abstract:We study the problem of learning generalized linear models under adversarial corruptions. We analyze a classical heuristic called the iterative trimmed maximum likelihood estimator which is known to be effective against label corruptions in practice. Under label corruptions, we prove that this simple estimator achieves minimax near-optimal risk on a wide range of generalized linear models, including Gaussian regression, Poisson regression and Binomial regression. Finally, we extend the estimator to the more challenging setting of label and covariate corruptions and demonstrate its robustness and optimality in that setting as well.

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Abstract:While mixture of linear regressions (MLR) is a well-studied topic, prior works usually do not analyze such models for prediction error. In fact, {\em prediction} and {\em loss} are not well-defined in the context of mixtures. In this paper, first we show that MLR can be used for prediction where instead of predicting a label, the model predicts a list of values (also known as {\em list-decoding}). The list size is equal to the number of components in the mixture, and the loss function is defined to be minimum among the losses resulted by all the component models. We show that with this definition, a solution of the empirical risk minimization (ERM) achieves small probability of prediction error. This begs for an algorithm to minimize the empirical risk for MLR, which is known to be computationally hard. Prior algorithmic works in MLR focus on the {\em realizable} setting, i.e., recovery of parameters when data is probabilistically generated by a mixed linear (noisy) model. In this paper we show that a version of the popular alternating minimization (AM) algorithm finds the best fit lines in a dataset even when a realizable model is not assumed, under some regularity conditions on the dataset and the initial points, and thereby provides a solution for the ERM. We further provide an algorithm that runs in polynomial time in the number of datapoints, and recovers a good approximation of the best fit lines. The two algorithms are experimentally compared.

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Abstract:Hierarchical forecasting is a key problem in many practical multivariate forecasting applications - the goal is to obtain coherent predictions for a large number of correlated time series that are arranged in a pre-specified tree hierarchy. In this paper, we present a probabilistic top-down approach to hierarchical forecasting that uses a novel attention-based RNN model to learn the distribution of the proportions according to which each parent prediction is split among its children nodes at any point in time. These probabilistic proportions are then coupled with an independent univariate probabilistic forecasting model (such as Prophet or STS) for the root time series. The resulting forecasts are computed in a top-down fashion and are naturally coherent, and also support probabilistic predictions over all time series in the hierarchy. We provide theoretical justification for the superiority of our top-down approach compared to traditional bottom-up hierarchical modeling. Finally, we experiment on three public datasets and demonstrate significantly improved probabilistic forecasts, compared to state-of-the-art probabilistic hierarchical models.

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Authors:Reese Pathak, Rajat Sen, Nikhil Rao, N. Benjamin Erichson, Michael I. Jordan, Inderjit S. Dhillon

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Abstract:We propose a three-stage framework for forecasting high-dimensional time-series data. Our method first estimates parameters for each univariate time series. Next, we use these parameters to cluster the time series. These clusters can be viewed as multivariate time series, for which we then compute parameters. The forecasted values of a single time series can depend on the history of other time series in the same cluster, accounting for intra-cluster similarity while minimizing potential noise in predictions by ignoring inter-cluster effects. Our framework -- which we refer to as "cluster-and-conquer" -- is highly general, allowing for any time-series forecasting and clustering method to be used in each step. It is computationally efficient and embarrassingly parallel. We motivate our framework with a theoretical analysis in an idealized mixed linear regression setting, where we provide guarantees on the quality of the estimates. We accompany these guarantees with experimental results that demonstrate the advantages of our framework: when instantiated with simple linear autoregressive models, we are able to achieve state-of-the-art results on several benchmark datasets, sometimes outperforming deep-learning-based approaches.

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