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Yibo Wang, Wenhao Yang, Wei Jiang, Shiyin Lu, Bing Wang, Haihong Tang, Yuanyu Wan, Lijun Zhang

Projection-free online learning has drawn increasing interest due to its efficiency in solving high-dimensional problems with complicated constraints. However, most existing projection-free online methods focus on minimizing the static regret, which unfortunately fails to capture the challenge of changing environments. In this paper, we investigate non-stationary projection-free online learning, and choose dynamic regret and adaptive regret to measure the performance. Specifically, we first provide a novel dynamic regret analysis for an existing projection-free method named $\text{BOGD}_\text{IP}$, and establish an $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4}(1+P_T))$ dynamic regret bound, where $P_T$ denotes the path-length of the comparator sequence. Then, we improve the upper bound to $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4}(1+P_T)^{1/4})$ by running multiple $\text{BOGD}_\text{IP}$ algorithms with different step sizes in parallel, and tracking the best one on the fly. Our results are the first general-case dynamic regret bounds for projection-free online learning, and can recover the existing $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4})$ static regret by setting $P_T = 0$. Furthermore, we propose a projection-free method to attain an $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\tau^{3/4})$ adaptive regret bound for any interval with length $\tau$, which nearly matches the static regret over that interval. The essential idea is to maintain a set of $\text{BOGD}_\text{IP}$ algorithms dynamically, and combine them by a meta algorithm. Moreover, we demonstrate that it is also equipped with an $\mathcal{O}(T^{3/4}(1+P_T)^{1/4})$ dynamic regret bound. Finally, empirical studies verify our theoretical findings.

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Lijun Zhang, Wei Jiang, Shiyin Lu, Tianbao Yang

In this paper, we revisit the problem of smoothed online learning, in which the online learner suffers both a hitting cost and a switching cost, and target two performance metrics: competitive ratio and dynamic regret with switching cost. To bound the competitive ratio, we assume the hitting cost is known to the learner in each round, and investigate the greedy algorithm which simply minimizes the weighted sum of the hitting cost and the switching cost. Our theoretical analysis shows that the greedy algorithm, although straightforward, is $1+ \frac{2}{\alpha}$-competitive for $\alpha$-polyhedral functions, $1+O(\frac{1}{\lambda})$-competitive for $\lambda$-quadratic growth functions, and $1 + \frac{2}{\sqrt{\lambda}}$-competitive for convex and $\lambda$-quadratic growth functions. To bound the dynamic regret with switching cost, we follow the standard setting of online convex optimization, in which the hitting cost is convex but hidden from the learner before making predictions. We modify Ader, an existing algorithm designed for dynamic regret, slightly to take into account the switching cost when measuring the performance. The proposed algorithm, named as Smoothed Ader, attains an optimal $O(\sqrt{T(1+P_T)})$ bound for dynamic regret with switching cost, where $P_T$ is the path-length of the comparator sequence. Furthermore, if the hitting cost is accessible in the beginning of each round, we obtain a similar guarantee without the bounded gradient condition.

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Lijun Zhang, Shiyin Lu, Tianbao Yang

Regret minimization is treated as the golden rule in the traditional study of online learning. However, regret minimization algorithms tend to converge to the static optimum, thus being suboptimal for changing environments. To address this limitation, new performance measures, including dynamic regret and adaptive regret have been proposed to guide the design of online algorithms. The former one aims to minimize the global regret with respect to a sequence of changing comparators, and the latter one attempts to minimize every local regret with respect to a fixed comparator. Existing algorithms for dynamic regret and adaptive regret are developed independently, and only target one performance measure. In this paper, we bridge this gap by proposing novel online algorithms that are able to minimize the dynamic regret and adaptive regret simultaneously. In fact, our theoretical guarantee is even stronger in the sense that one algorithm is able to minimize the dynamic regret over any interval.

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Shiyin Lu, Lijun Zhang

In this paper, we consider the problem of prediction with expert advice in dynamic environments. We choose tracking regret as the performance metric and derive novel data-dependent bounds by developing two adaptive algorithms. The first algorithm achieves a second-order tracking regret bound, which improves existing first-order bounds. The second algorithm enjoys a path-length bound, which is generally incomparable to the second-order bound but offers advantages in slowly moving environments. Both algorithms are developed under the online mirror descent framework and draw inspiration from existing algorithms that attain data-dependent bounds of static regret. The key idea is to use a clipped simplex in the updating step of online mirror descent. Finally, we extend our algorithms and analysis to the problem of online matrix prediction and provide the first data-dependent tracking regret bound for this problem.

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Shiyin Lu, Guanghui Wang, Yao Hu, Lijun Zhang

In this paper, we study the multi-objective bandits (MOB) problem, where a learner repeatedly selects one arm to play and then receives a reward vector consisting of multiple objectives. MOB has found many real-world applications as varied as online recommendation and network routing. On the other hand, these applications typically contain contextual information that can guide the learning process which, however, is ignored by most of existing work. To utilize this information, we associate each arm with a context vector and assume the reward follows the generalized linear model (GLM). We adopt the notion of Pareto regret to evaluate the learner's performance and develop a novel algorithm for minimizing it. The essential idea is to apply a variant of the online Newton step to estimate model parameters, based on which we utilize the upper confidence bound (UCB) policy to construct an approximation of the Pareto front, and then uniformly at random choose one arm from the approximate Pareto front. Theoretical analysis shows that the proposed algorithm achieves an $\tilde O(d\sqrt{T})$ Pareto regret, where $T$ is the time horizon and $d$ is the dimension of contexts, which matches the optimal result for single objective contextual bandits problem. Numerical experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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Guanghui Wang, Shiyin Lu, Lijun Zhang

In this paper, we study adaptive online convex optimization, and aim to design a universal algorithm that achieves optimal regret bounds for multiple common types of loss functions. Existing universal methods are limited in the sense that they are optimal for only a subclass of loss functions. To address this limitation, we propose a novel online method, namely Maler, which enjoys the optimal $O(\sqrt{T})$, $O(d\log T)$ and $O(\log T)$ regret bounds for general convex, exponentially concave, and strongly convex functions respectively. The essential idea is to run multiple types of learning algorithms with different learning rates in parallel, and utilize a meta algorithm to track the best one on the fly. Empirical results demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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Guanghui Wang, Shiyin Lu, Weiwei Tu, Lijun Zhang

The Adam algorithm has become extremely popular for large-scale machine learning. Under convexity condition, it has been proved to enjoy a data-dependant $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret bound where $T$ is the time horizon. However, whether strong convexity can be utilized to further improve the performance remains an open problem. In this paper, we give an affirmative answer by developing a variant of Adam (referred to as SAdam) which achieves a data-dependant $O(\log T)$ regret bound for strongly convex functions. The essential idea is to maintain a faster decaying yet under controlled step size for exploiting strong convexity. In addition, under a special configuration of hyperparameters, our SAdam reduces to SC-RMSprop, a recently proposed variant of RMSprop for strongly convex functions, for which we provide the first data-dependent logarithmic regret bound. Empirical results on optimizing strongly convex functions and training deep networks demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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Lijun Zhang, Shiyin Lu, Zhi-Hua Zhou

In this paper, we study online convex optimization in dynamic environments, and aim to bound the dynamic regret with respect to any sequence of comparators. Existing work have shown that online gradient descent enjoys an $O(\sqrt{T}(1+P_T))$ dynamic regret, where $T$ is the number of iterations and $P_T$ is the path-length of the comparator sequence. However, this result is unsatisfactory, as there exists a large gap from the $\Omega(\sqrt{T(1+P_T)})$ lower bound established in our paper. To address this limitation, we develop a novel online method, namely adaptive learning for dynamic environment (Ader), which achieves an optimal $O(\sqrt{T(1+P_T)})$ dynamic regret. The basic idea is to maintain a set of experts, each attaining an optimal dynamic regret for a specific path-length, and combines them with an expert-tracking algorithm. Furthermore, we propose an improved Ader based on the surrogate loss, and in this way the number of gradient evaluations per round is reduced from $O(\log T)$ to $1$. Finally, we extend Ader to the setting that a sequence of dynamical models is available to characterize the comparators.

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