Double meeting on Mixing and Mixability ---- Dirk van der Hoeven and Zakaria Mhammedi

Making use of Zak's visit to connect two research lines that relate to mixability and mixing.
  • When Jun 11, 2018 from 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam / UTC200)
  • Where L017
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11:00-11:50 Dirk van der Hoeven (Leiden University)

A standard introduction to online learning might place Online Gradient Descent at its center and then proceed to develop generalizations and extensions like Online Mirror Descent and second-order methods. Here we explore the alternative approach of putting Exponential Weights (EW) first. We show that many standard methods and their regret bounds then follow as a special case by plugging in suitable surrogate losses and playing the EW posterior mean. For instance, we easily recover Online Gradient Descent by using EW with a Gaussian prior on linearized losses, and, more generally, all instances of Online Mirror Descent based on regular Bregman divergences also correspond to EW with a prior that depends on the mirror map. Furthermore, appropriate quadratic surrogate losses naturally give rise to Online Gradient Descent for strongly convex losses and to Online Newton Step. We further interpret several recent adaptive methods (iProd, Squint, and a variation of Coin Betting for experts) as a series of closely related reductions to exp-concave surrogate losses that are then handled by Exponential Weights. Finally, a benefit of our EW interpretation is that it opens up the possibility of sampling from the EW posterior distribution instead of playing the mean. As already observed by Bubeck and Eldan, this recovers the best-known rate in Online Bandit Linear Optimization.


12:00-12:50 Zakaria Mhammedi (Australian National University)


We consider the setting of prediction with expert advice; a learner makes predictions by aggregating those of a group of experts. Under this setting, and for the right choice of loss function and “mixing” algorithm, it is possible for the learner to achieve a constant regret regardless of the number of prediction rounds. For example, a constant regret can be achieved for mixable losses using the aggregating algorithm. The Generalized Aggregating Algorithm (GAA) is a name for a family of algorithms parameterized by convex functions on simplices (entropies), which reduce to the aggregating algorithm when using the Shannon entropy. For a given entropy H, losses for which constant regret is possible using the GAA are called H-mixable. Which losses are H-mixable was previously left as an open question. We fully characterize H-mixability by showing that a loss is H-mixable if and only if cH - S is convex on the probability simplex, where c is the mixability constant (in Vovk's sense) of the loss considered, and S is the Shannon entropy. Using this, we show that the Shannon entropy achieves the lowest worst-case regret among all other entropies when using the GAA. Finally, by leveraging the connection between the mirror descent algorithm and the update step of the GAA, we suggest a new adaptive generalized aggregating algorithm and analyze its performance in terms of the regret bound.