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Daniel Grier, Sihan Liu, Gaurav Mahajan

We study the sample complexity of the classical shadows task: what is the fewest number of copies of an unknown state you need to measure to predict expected values with respect to some class of observables? Large joint measurements are likely required in order to minimize sample complexity, but previous joint measurement protocols only work when the unknown state is pure. We present the first joint measurement protocol for classical shadows whose sample complexity scales with the rank of the unknown state. In particular we prove $\mathcal O(\sqrt{rB}/\epsilon^2)$ samples suffice, where $r$ is the rank of the state, $B$ is a bound on the squared Frobenius norm of the observables, and $\epsilon$ is the target accuracy. In the low-rank regime, this is a nearly quadratic advantage over traditional approaches that use single-copy measurements. We present several intermediate results that may be of independent interest: a solution to a new formulation of classical shadows that captures functions of non-identical input states; a generalization of a ``nice'' Schur basis used for optimal qubit purification and quantum majority vote; and a measurement strategy that allows us to use local symmetries in the Schur basis to avoid intractable Weingarten calculations in the analysis.

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Ilias Diakonikolas, Daniel M. Kane, Vasilis Kontonis, Sihan Liu, Nikos Zarifis

We study the efficient learnability of low-degree polynomial threshold functions (PTFs) in the presence of a constant fraction of adversarial corruptions. Our main algorithmic result is a polynomial-time PAC learning algorithm for this concept class in the strong contamination model under the Gaussian distribution with error guarantee $O_{d, c}(\text{opt}^{1-c})$, for any desired constant $c>0$, where $\text{opt}$ is the fraction of corruptions. In the strong contamination model, an omniscient adversary can arbitrarily corrupt an $\text{opt}$-fraction of the data points and their labels. This model generalizes the malicious noise model and the adversarial label noise model. Prior to our work, known polynomial-time algorithms in this corruption model (or even in the weaker adversarial label noise model) achieved error $\tilde{O}_d(\text{opt}^{1/(d+1)})$, which deteriorates significantly as a function of the degree $d$. Our algorithm employs an iterative approach inspired by localization techniques previously used in the context of learning linear threshold functions. Specifically, we use a robust perceptron algorithm to compute a good partial classifier and then iterate on the unclassified points. In order to achieve this, we need to take a set defined by a number of polynomial inequalities and partition it into several well-behaved subsets. To this end, we develop new polynomial decomposition techniques that may be of independent interest.

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Sihan Liu, Yiwei Ma, Xiaoqing Zhang, Haowei Wang, Jiayi Ji, Xiaoshuai Sun, Rongrong Ji

Referring Remote Sensing Image Segmentation (RRSIS) is a new challenge that combines computer vision and natural language processing, delineating specific regions in aerial images as described by textual queries. Traditional Referring Image Segmentation (RIS) approaches have been impeded by the complex spatial scales and orientations found in aerial imagery, leading to suboptimal segmentation results. To address these challenges, we introduce the Rotated Multi-Scale Interaction Network (RMSIN), an innovative approach designed for the unique demands of RRSIS. RMSIN incorporates an Intra-scale Interaction Module (IIM) to effectively address the fine-grained detail required at multiple scales and a Cross-scale Interaction Module (CIM) for integrating these details coherently across the network. Furthermore, RMSIN employs an Adaptive Rotated Convolution (ARC) to account for the diverse orientations of objects, a novel contribution that significantly enhances segmentation accuracy. To assess the efficacy of RMSIN, we have curated an expansive dataset comprising 17,402 image-caption-mask triplets, which is unparalleled in terms of scale and variety. This dataset not only presents the model with a wide range of spatial and rotational scenarios but also establishes a stringent benchmark for the RRSIS task, ensuring a rigorous evaluation of performance. Our experimental evaluations demonstrate the exceptional performance of RMSIN, surpassing existing state-of-the-art models by a significant margin. All datasets and code are made available at https://github.com/Lsan2401/RMSIN.

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Ilias Diakonikolas, Daniel M. Kane, Sihan Liu

We investigate the statistical task of closeness (or equivalence) testing for multidimensional distributions. Specifically, given sample access to two unknown distributions $\mathbf p, \mathbf q$ on $\mathbb R^d$, we want to distinguish between the case that $\mathbf p=\mathbf q$ versus $\|\mathbf p-\mathbf q\|_{A_k} > \epsilon$, where $\|\mathbf p-\mathbf q\|_{A_k}$ denotes the generalized ${A}_k$ distance between $\mathbf p$ and $\mathbf q$ -- measuring the maximum discrepancy between the distributions over any collection of $k$ disjoint, axis-aligned rectangles. Our main result is the first closeness tester for this problem with {\em sub-learning} sample complexity in any fixed dimension and a nearly-matching sample complexity lower bound. In more detail, we provide a computationally efficient closeness tester with sample complexity $O\left((k^{6/7}/ \mathrm{poly}_d(\epsilon)) \log^d(k)\right)$. On the lower bound side, we establish a qualitatively matching sample complexity lower bound of $\Omega(k^{6/7}/\mathrm{poly}(\epsilon))$, even for $d=2$. These sample complexity bounds are surprising because the sample complexity of the problem in the univariate setting is $\Theta(k^{4/5}/\mathrm{poly}(\epsilon))$. This has the interesting consequence that the jump from one to two dimensions leads to a substantial increase in sample complexity, while increases beyond that do not. As a corollary of our general $A_k$ tester, we obtain $d_{\mathrm TV}$-closeness testers for pairs of $k$-histograms on $\mathbb R^d$ over a common unknown partition, and pairs of uniform distributions supported on the union of $k$ unknown disjoint axis-aligned rectangles. Both our algorithm and our lower bound make essential use of tools from Ramsey theory.

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Daniel M. Kane, Ilias Diakonikolas, Hanshen Xiao, Sihan Liu

We study the problem of high-dimensional robust mean estimation in an online setting. Specifically, we consider a scenario where $n$ sensors are measuring some common, ongoing phenomenon. At each time step $t=1,2,\ldots,T$, the $i^{th}$ sensor reports its readings $x^{(i)}_t$ for that time step. The algorithm must then commit to its estimate $\mu_t$ for the true mean value of the process at time $t$. We assume that most of the sensors observe independent samples from some common distribution $X$, but an $\epsilon$-fraction of them may instead behave maliciously. The algorithm wishes to compute a good approximation $\mu$ to the true mean $\mu^\ast := \mathbf{E}[X]$. We note that if the algorithm is allowed to wait until time $T$ to report its estimate, this reduces to the well-studied problem of robust mean estimation. However, the requirement that our algorithm produces partial estimates as the data is coming in substantially complicates the situation. We prove two main results about online robust mean estimation in this model. First, if the uncorrupted samples satisfy the standard condition of $(\epsilon,\delta)$-stability, we give an efficient online algorithm that outputs estimates $\mu_t$, $t \in [T],$ such that with high probability it holds that $\|\mu-\mu^\ast\|_2 = O(\delta \log(T))$, where $\mu = (\mu_t)_{t \in [T]}$. We note that this error bound is nearly competitive with the best offline algorithms, which would achieve $\ell_2$-error of $O(\delta)$. Our second main result shows that with additional assumptions on the input (most notably that $X$ is a product distribution) there are inefficient algorithms whose error does not depend on $T$ at all.

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Ilias Diakonikolas, Daniel M. Kane, Vasilis Kontonis, Sihan Liu, Nikos Zarifis

We give the first polynomial-time algorithm for the testable learning of halfspaces in the presence of adversarial label noise under the Gaussian distribution. In the recently introduced testable learning model, one is required to produce a tester-learner such that if the data passes the tester, then one can trust the output of the robust learner on the data. Our tester-learner runs in time $\poly(d/\eps)$ and outputs a halfspace with misclassification error $O(\opt)+\eps$, where $\opt$ is the 0-1 error of the best fitting halfspace. At a technical level, our algorithm employs an iterative soft localization technique enhanced with appropriate testers to ensure that the data distribution is sufficiently similar to a Gaussian.

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Daniel Kane, Sihan Liu, Shachar Lovett, Gaurav Mahajan, Csaba Szepesvári, Gellért Weisz

A fundamental question in reinforcement learning theory is: suppose the optimal value functions are linear in given features, can we learn them efficiently? This problem's counterpart in supervised learning, linear regression, can be solved both statistically and computationally efficiently. Therefore, it was quite surprising when a recent work \cite{kane2022computational} showed a computational-statistical gap for linear reinforcement learning: even though there are polynomial sample-complexity algorithms, unless NP = RP, there are no polynomial time algorithms for this setting. In this work, we build on their result to show a computational lower bound, which is exponential in feature dimension and horizon, for linear reinforcement learning under the Randomized Exponential Time Hypothesis. To prove this we build a round-based game where in each round the learner is searching for an unknown vector in a unit hypercube. The rewards in this game are chosen such that if the learner achieves large reward, then the learner's actions can be used to simulate solving a variant of 3-SAT, where (a) each variable shows up in a bounded number of clauses (b) if an instance has no solutions then it also has no solutions that satisfy more than (1-$\epsilon$)-fraction of clauses. We use standard reductions to show this 3-SAT variant is approximately as hard as 3-SAT. Finally, we also show a lower bound optimized for horizon dependence that almost matches the best known upper bound of $\exp(\sqrt{H})$.

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Clément L. Canonne, Ilias Diakonikolas, Daniel M. Kane, Sihan Liu

We investigate the problem of testing whether a discrete probability distribution over an ordered domain is a histogram on a specified number of bins. One of the most common tools for the succinct approximation of data, $k$-histograms over $[n]$, are probability distributions that are piecewise constant over a set of $k$ intervals. The histogram testing problem is the following: Given samples from an unknown distribution $\mathbf{p}$ on $[n]$, we want to distinguish between the cases that $\mathbf{p}$ is a $k$-histogram versus $\varepsilon$-far from any $k$-histogram, in total variation distance. Our main result is a sample near-optimal and computationally efficient algorithm for this testing problem, and a nearly-matching (within logarithmic factors) sample complexity lower bound. Specifically, we show that the histogram testing problem has sample complexity $\widetilde \Theta (\sqrt{nk} / \varepsilon + k / \varepsilon^2 + \sqrt{n} / \varepsilon^2)$.

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Daniel Kane, Sihan Liu, Shachar Lovett, Gaurav Mahajan

Reinforcement learning with function approximation has recently achieved tremendous results in applications with large state spaces. This empirical success has motivated a growing body of theoretical work proposing necessary and sufficient conditions under which efficient reinforcement learning is possible. From this line of work, a remarkably simple minimal sufficient condition has emerged for sample efficient reinforcement learning: MDPs with optimal value function $V^*$ and $Q^*$ linear in some known low-dimensional features. In this setting, recent works have designed sample efficient algorithms which require a number of samples polynomial in the feature dimension and independent of the size of state space. They however leave finding computationally efficient algorithms as future work and this is considered a major open problem in the community. In this work, we make progress on this open problem by presenting the first computational lower bound for RL with linear function approximation: unless NP=RP, no randomized polynomial time algorithm exists for deterministic transition MDPs with a constant number of actions and linear optimal value functions. To prove this, we show a reduction from Unique-Sat, where we convert a CNF formula into an MDP with deterministic transitions, constant number of actions and low dimensional linear optimal value functions. This result also exhibits the first computational-statistical gap in reinforcement learning with linear function approximation, as the underlying statistical problem is information-theoretically solvable with a polynomial number of queries, but no computationally efficient algorithm exists unless NP=RP. Finally, we also prove a quasi-polynomial time lower bound under the Randomized Exponential Time Hypothesis.

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Vasilis Kontonis, Sihan Liu, Christos Tzamos

We provide theoretical convergence guarantees on training Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) via SGD. We consider learning a target distribution modeled by a 1-layer Generator network with a non-linear activation function $\phi(\cdot)$ parametrized by a $d \times d$ weight matrix $\mathbf W_*$, i.e., $f_*(\mathbf x) = \phi(\mathbf W_* \mathbf x)$. Our main result is that by training the Generator together with a Discriminator according to the Stochastic Gradient Descent-Ascent iteration proposed by Goodfellow et al. yields a Generator distribution that approaches the target distribution of $f_*$. Specifically, we can learn the target distribution within total-variation distance $\epsilon$ using $\tilde O(d^2/\epsilon^2)$ samples which is (near-)information theoretically optimal. Our results apply to a broad class of non-linear activation functions $\phi$, including ReLUs and is enabled by a connection with truncated statistics and an appropriate design of the Discriminator network. Our approach relies on a bilevel optimization framework to show that vanilla SGDA works.

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