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  1. This paper develops a unified Lyapunov framework for finite-sample analysis of a Markovian stochastic approximation (SA) algorithm under a contraction operator with respect to an arbitrary norm. The main novelty lies in the construction of a valid Lyapunov function called the generalized Moreau envelope. The smoothness and an approximation property of the generalized Moreau envelope enable us to derive a one-step Lyapunov drift inequality, which is the key to establishing the finite-sample bounds. Our SA result has wide applications, especially in the context of reinforcement learning (RL). Specifically, we show that a large class of value-based RL algorithms can be modeled in the exact form of our Markovian SA algorithm. Therefore, our SA results immediately imply finite-sample guarantees for popular RL algorithms such as n-step temporal difference (TD) learning, TD(𝜆), off-policy V-trace, and Q-learning. As byproducts, by analyzing the convergence bounds of n-step TD and TD(𝜆), we provide theoretical insight into the problem about the efficiency of bootstrapping. Moreover, our finite-sample bounds of off-policy V-trace explicitly capture the tradeoff between the variance of the stochastic iterates and the bias in the limit. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 6, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. We consider a multi-agent multi-armed bandit setting in which n honest agents collaborate over a network to minimize regret but m malicious agents can disrupt learning arbitrarily. Assuming the network is the complete graph, existing algorithms incur O((m + K/n) łog (T) / Δ ) regret in this setting, where K is the number of arms and Δ is the arm gap. For m łl K, this improves over the single-agent baseline regret of O(Kłog(T)/Δ). In this work, we show the situation is murkier beyond the case of a complete graph. In particular, we prove that if the state-of-the-art algorithm is used on the undirected line graph, honest agents can suffer (nearly) linear regret until time is doubly exponential in K and n . In light of this negative result, we propose a new algorithm for which the i -th agent has regret O(( dmal (i) + K/n) łog(T)/Δ) on any connected and undirected graph, where dmal(i) is the number of i 's neighbors who are malicious. Thus, we generalize existing regret bounds beyond the complete graph (where dmal(i) = m), and show the effect of malicious agents is entirely local (in the sense that only the dmal (i) malicious agents directly connected to i affect its long-term regret). 
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  4. We propose and evaluate a learning-based framework to address multi-agent resource allocation in coupled wireless systems. In particular we consider, multiple agents (e.g., base stations, access points, etc.) that choose amongst a set of resource allocation options towards achieving their own performance objective /requirements, and where the performance observed at each agent is further coupled with the actions chosen by the other agents, e.g., through interference, channel leakage, etc. The challenge is to find the best collective action. To that end we propose a Multi-Armed Bandit (MAB) framework wherein the best actions (aka arms) are adaptively learned through online reward feedback. Our focus is on systems which are "weakly-coupled" wherein the best arm of each agent is invariant to others' arm selection the majority of the time - this majority structure enables one to develop light weight efficient algorithms. This structure is commonly found in many wireless settings such as channel selection and power control. We develop a bandit algorithm based on the Track-and-Stop strategy, which shows a logarithmic regret with respect to a genie. Finally through simulation, we exhibit the potential use of our model and algorithm in several wireless application scenarios. 
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  5. Considerable work has focused on optimal stopping problems where random IID offers arrive sequentially for a single available resource which is controlled by the decision-maker. After viewing the realization of the offer, the decision-maker irrevocably rejects it, or accepts it, collecting the reward and ending the game. We consider an important extension of this model to a dynamic setting where the resource is "renewable'' (a rental, a work assignment, or a temporary position) and can be allocated again after a delay period d. In the case where the reward distribution is known a priori, we design an (asymptotically optimal) 1/2-competitive Prophet Inequality, namely, a policy that collects in expectation at least half of the expected reward collected by a prophet who a priori knows all the realizations. This policy has a particularly simple characterization as a thresholding rule which depends on the reward distribution and the blocking period d, and arises naturally from an LP-relaxation of the prophet's optimal solution. Moreover, it gives the key for extending to the case of unknown distributions; here, we construct a dynamic threshold rule using the reward samples collected when the resource is not blocked. We provide a regret guarantee for our algorithm against the best policy in hindsight, and prove a complementing minimax lower bound on the best achievable regret, establishing that our policy achieves, up to poly-logarithmic factors, the best possible regret in this setting. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    In multi-server queueing systems where there is no central queue holding all incoming jobs, job dispatching policies are used to assign incoming jobs to the queue at one of the servers. Classic job dispatching policies such as join-the-shortest-queue and shortest expected delay assume that the service rates and queue lengths of the servers are known to the dispatcher. In this work, we tackle the problem of job dispatching without the knowledge of service rates and queue lengths, where the dispatcher can only obtain noisy estimates of the service rates by observing job departures. This problem presents a novel exploration-exploitation trade-off between sending jobs to all the servers to estimate their service rates, and exploiting the currently known fastest servers to minimize the expected queueing delay. We propose a bandit-based exploration policy that learns the service rates from observed job departures. Unlike the standard multi-armed bandit problem where only one out of a finite set of actions is optimal, here the optimal policy requires identifying the optimal fraction of incoming jobs to be sent to each server. We present a regret analysis and simulations to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed bandit-based exploration policy. 
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