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  1. We discuss the question of learning distribution over permutations of a given set of choices, options or items based on partial observations. This is central to capturing the so called ``choice'' in a variety of contexts: understanding preferences of consumers over a collection of products based on purchasing and browsing data in the setting of retail and e-commerce, learning public opinion amongst a collection of socio-economic issues based on sparse polling data, deciding a ranking of teams or players based on outcomes of games, electing leaders based on votes, and more generally collaborative decision making based on collective judgement such as accepting paper(s) in a competitive academic conference. The question of learning distribution over permutations arises beyond capturing ``choice'' as well. For example, tracking a collection of objects using noisy cameras, or aggregating ranking of web-pages using outcomes of multiple search engines. It is only natural that such a topic has been extensively studied in Economics, Political Science and Psychology for more than a century, and more so recently in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Statistics and Operations Research. Here we shall focus on the task of learning distribution over permutations from its marginal distributions of two types: first-order marginals andmore »pair-wise comparisons. There has been a lot of progress made on this topic in the last decade. The ideal goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of the state-of-art on this topic. We shall provide detailed overview of selective aspects, biased by author's perspective of the topic. And provide sufficient pointers to aspects not covered here. We shall emphasize on ability to identify the entire distribution over permutation as well as ``best ranking''.« less
  2. We propose an algorithm to impute and forecast a time series by transforming the observed time series into a matrix, utilizing matrix estimation to recover missing values and de-noise observed entries, and performing linear regression to make predictions. At the core of our analysis is a representation result, which states that for a large class of models, the transformed time series matrix is (approximately) low-rank. In effect, this generalizes the widely used Singular Spectrum Analysis (SSA) in the time series literature, and allows us to establish a rigorous link between time series analysis and matrix estimation. The key to establishing this link is constructing a Page matrix with non-overlapping entries rather than a Hankel matrix as is commonly done in the literature (e.g., SSA). This particular matrix structure allows us to provide finite sample analysis for imputation and prediction, and prove the asymptotic consistency of our method. Another salient feature of our algorithm is that it is model agnostic with respect to both the underlying time dynamics and the noise distribution in the observations. The noise agnostic property of our approach allows us to recover the latent states when only given access to noisy and partial observations a la amore »Hidden Markov Model; e.g., recovering the time-varying parameter of a Poisson process without knowing that the underlying process is Poisson. Furthermore, since our forecasting algorithm requires regression with noisy features, our approach suggests a matrix estimation based method-coupled with a novel, non-standard matrix estimation error metric-to solve the error-in-variable regression problem, which could be of interest in its own right. Through synthetic and real-world datasets, we demonstrate that our algorithm outperforms standard software packages (including R libraries) in the presence of missing data as well as high levels of noise.« less
  3. We propose an algorithm to impute and forecast a time series by transforming the observed time series into a matrix, utilizing matrix estimation to recover missing values and de-noise observed entries, and performing linear regression to make predictions. At the core of our analysis is a representation result, which states that for a large class of models, the transformed time series matrix is (approximately) low-rank. In effect, this generalizes the widely used Singular Spectrum Analysis (SSA) in the time series literature, and allows us to establish a rigorous link between time series analysis and matrix estimation. The key to establishing this link is constructing a Page matrix with non-overlapping entries rather than a Hankel matrix as is commonly done in the literature (e.g., SSA). This particular matrix structure allows us to provide finite sample analysis for imputation and prediction, and prove the asymptotic consistency of our method. Another salient feature of our algorithm is that it is model agnostic with respect to both the underlying time dynamics and the noise distribution in the observations. The noise agnostic property of our approach allows us to recover the latent states when only given access to noisy and partial observations a la amore »Hidden Markov Model; e.g., recovering the time-varying parameter of a Poisson process without knowing that the underlying process is Poisson. Furthermore, since our forecasting algorithm requires regression with noisy features, our approach suggests a matrix estimation based method—coupled with a novel, non-standard matrix estimation error metric—to solve the error-in-variable regression problem, which could be of interest in its own right. Through synthetic and real-world datasets, we demonstrate that our algorithm outperforms standard software packages (including R libraries) in the presence of missing data as well as high levels of noise.« less
  4. We consider model-free reinforcement learning for infinite-horizon discounted Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) with a continuous state space and unknown transition kernel, when only a single sample path under an arbitrary policy of the system is available. We consider the Nearest Neighbor Q-Learning (NNQL) algorithm to learn the optimal Q function using nearest neighbor regression method. As the main contribution, we provide tight finite sample analysis of the convergence rate. In particular, for MDPs with a d-dimensional state space and the discounted factor in (0, 1), given an arbitrary sample path with “covering time” L, we establish that the algorithm is guaranteed to output an "-accurate estimate of the optimal Q-function nearly optimal sample complexity.
  5. Appeared in AISTAT 2018, published as part of Proceedings of Journal of Machine Learning Research.