skip to main content


Title: Dynamic Global Sensitivity for Differentially Private Contextual Bandits
We propose a differentially private linear contextual bandit algorithm, via a tree-based mechanism to add Laplace or Gaussian noise to model parameters. Our key insight is that as the model converges during online update, the global sensitivity of its parameters shrinks over time (thus named dynamic global sensitivity). Compared with existing solutions, our dynamic global sensitivity analysis allows us to inject less noise to obtain $(\epsilon, \delta)$-differential privacy with added regret caused by noise injection in $\tilde O(\log{T}\sqrt{T}/\epsilon)$. We provide a rigorous theoretical analysis over the amount of noise added via dynamic global sensitivity and the corresponding upper regret bound of our proposed algorithm. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world datasets confirmed the algorithm's advantage against existing solutions.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2128019 2007492 1553568
NSF-PAR ID:
10381229
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 16th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems
Page Range / eLocation ID:
179 to 187
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Collaborative bandit learning, i.e., bandit algorithms that utilize collaborative filtering techniques to improve sample efficiency in online interactive recommendation, has attracted much research attention as it enjoys the best of both worlds. However, all existing collaborative bandit learning solutions impose a stationary assumption about the environment, i.e., both user preferences and the dependency among users are assumed static over time. Unfortunately, this assumption hardly holds in practice due to users' ever-changing interests and dependency relations, which inevitably costs a recommender system sub-optimal performance in practice. In this work, we develop a collaborative dynamic bandit solution to handle a changing environment for recommendation. We explicitly model the underlying changes in both user preferences and their dependency relation as a stochastic process. Individual user's preference is modeled by a mixture of globally shared contextual bandit models with a Dirichlet process prior. Collaboration among users is thus achieved via Bayesian inference over the global bandit models. To balance exploitation and exploration during the interactions, Thompson sampling is used for both model selection and arm selection. Our solution is proved to maintain a standard $\tilde O(\sqrt{T})$ Bayesian regret in this challenging environment. Extensive empirical evaluations on both synthetic and real-world datasets further confirmed the necessity of modeling a changing environment and our algorithm's practical advantages against several state-of-the-art online learning solutions. 
    more » « less
  2. We study model-free reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms for infinite-horizon average-reward Markov decision process (MDP), which is more appropriate for applications that involve continuing operations not divided into episodes. In contrast to episodic/discounted MDPs, theoretical understanding of model-free RL algorithms is relatively inadequate for the average-reward setting. In this paper, we consider both the online setting and the setting with access to a simulator. We develop computationally efficient model-free algorithms that achieve sharper guarantees on regret/sample complexity compared with existing results. In the online setting, we design an algorithm, UCB-AVG, based on an optimistic variant of variance-reduced Q-learning. We show that UCB-AVG achieves a regret bound $\widetilde{O}(S^5A^2sp(h^*)\sqrt{T})$ after $T$ steps, where $S\times A$ is the size of state-action space, and $sp(h^*)$ the span of the optimal bias function. Our result provides the first computationally efficient model-free algorithm that achieves the optimal dependence in $T$ (up to log factors) for weakly communicating MDPs, which is necessary for low regret. In contrast, prior results either are suboptimal in $T$ or require strong assumptions of ergodicity or uniformly mixing of MDPs. In the simulator setting, we adapt the idea of UCB-AVG to develop a model-free algorithm that finds an $\epsilon$-optimal policy with sample complexity $\widetilde{O}(SAsp^2(h^*)\epsilon^{-2} + S^2Asp(h^*)\epsilon^{-1}).$ This sample complexity is near-optimal for weakly communicating MDPs, in view of the minimax lower bound $\Omega(SAsp(^*)\epsilon^{-2})$. Existing work mainly focuses on ergodic MDPs and the results typically depend on $t_{mix},$ the worst-case mixing time induced by a policy. We remark that the diameter $D$ and mixing time $t_{mix}$ are both lower bounded by $sp(h^*)$, and $t_{mix}$ can be arbitrarily large for certain MDPs. On the technical side, our approach integrates two key ideas: learning an $\gamma$-discounted MDP as an approximation, and leveraging reference-advantage decomposition for variance in optimistic Q-learning. As recognized in prior work, a naive approximation by discounted MDPs results in suboptimal guarantees. A distinguishing feature of our method is maintaining estimates of value-difference between state pairs to provide a sharper bound on the variance of reference advantage. We also crucially use a careful choice of the discounted factor $\gamma$ to balance approximation error due to discounting and the statistical learning error, and we are able to maintain a good-quality reference value function with $O(SA)$ space complexity. 
    more » « less
  3. Evans, Robin J. (Ed.)
    We study linear bandits when the underlying reward function is not linear. Existing work relies on a uniform misspecification parameter $\epsilon$ that measures the sup-norm error of the best linear approximation. This results in an unavoidable linear regret whenever $\epsilon > 0$. We describe a more natural model of misspecification which only requires the approximation error at each input $x$ to be proportional to the suboptimality gap at $x$. It captures the intuition that, for optimization problems, near-optimal regions should matter more and we can tolerate larger approximation errors in suboptimal regions. Quite surprisingly, we show that the classical LinUCB algorithm — designed for the realizable case — is automatically robust against such gap-adjusted misspecification. It achieves a near-optimal $\sqrt{T}$ regret for problems that the best-known regret is almost linear in time horizon $T$. Technically, our proof relies on a novel self-bounding argument that bounds the part of the regret due to misspecification by the regret itself. 
    more » « less
  4. Ruiz, Francisco and (Ed.)
    Motivated by personalized healthcare and other applications involving sensitive data, we study online exploration in reinforcement learning with differential privacy (DP) constraints. Existing work on this problem established that no-regret learning is possible under joint differential privacy (JDP) and local differential privacy (LDP) but did not provide an algorithm with optimal regret. We close this gap for the JDP case by designing an $\epsilon$-JDP algorithm with a regret of $\widetilde{O}(\sqrt{SAH^2T}+S^2AH^3/\epsilon)$ which matches the information-theoretic lower bound of non-private learning for all choices of $\epsilon> S^{1.5}A^{0.5} H^2/\sqrt{T}$. In the above, $S$, $A$ denote the number of states and actions, $H$ denotes the planning horizon, and $T$ is the number of steps. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first private RL algorithm that achieves privacy for free asymptotically as $T\rightarrow \infty$. Our techniques — which could be of independent interest — include privately releasing Bernstein-type exploration bonuses and an improved method for releasing visitation statistics. The same techniques also imply a slightly improved regret bound for the LDP case. 
    more » « less
  5. The noise sensitivity of a Boolean function f: {0,1}^n - > {0,1} is one of its fundamental properties. For noise parameter delta, the noise sensitivity is denoted as NS_{delta}[f]. This quantity is defined as follows: First, pick x = (x_1,...,x_n) uniformly at random from {0,1}^n, then pick z by flipping each x_i independently with probability delta. NS_{delta}[f] is defined to equal Pr [f(x) != f(z)]. Much of the existing literature on noise sensitivity explores the following two directions: (1) Showing that functions with low noise-sensitivity are structured in certain ways. (2) Mathematically showing that certain classes of functions have low noise sensitivity. Combined, these two research directions show that certain classes of functions have low noise sensitivity and therefore have useful structure. The fundamental importance of noise sensitivity, together with this wealth of structural results, motivates the algorithmic question of approximating NS_{delta}[f] given an oracle access to the function f. We show that the standard sampling approach is essentially optimal for general Boolean functions. Therefore, we focus on estimating the noise sensitivity of monotone functions, which form an important subclass of Boolean functions, since many functions of interest are either monotone or can be simply transformed into a monotone function (for example the class of unate functions consists of all the functions that can be made monotone by reorienting some of their coordinates [O'Donnell, 2014]). Specifically, we study the algorithmic problem of approximating NS_{delta}[f] for monotone f, given the promise that NS_{delta}[f] >= 1/n^{C} for constant C, and for delta in the range 1/n <= delta <= 1/2. For such f and delta, we give a randomized algorithm performing O((min(1,sqrt{n} delta log^{1.5} n))/(NS_{delta}[f]) poly (1/epsilon)) queries and approximating NS_{delta}[f] to within a multiplicative factor of (1 +/- epsilon). Given the same constraints on f and delta, we also prove a lower bound of Omega((min(1,sqrt{n} delta))/(NS_{delta}[f] * n^{xi})) on the query complexity of any algorithm that approximates NS_{delta}[f] to within any constant factor, where xi can be any positive constant. Thus, our algorithm's query complexity is close to optimal in terms of its dependence on n. We introduce a novel descending-ascending view of noise sensitivity, and use it as a central tool for the analysis of our algorithm. To prove lower bounds on query complexity, we develop a technique that reduces computational questions about query complexity to combinatorial questions about the existence of "thin" functions with certain properties. The existence of such "thin" functions is proved using the probabilistic method. These techniques also yield new lower bounds on the query complexity of approximating other fundamental properties of Boolean functions: the total influence and the bias. 
    more » « less