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  1. A major bottleneck of the current Machine Learning (ML) workflow is the time consuming, error prone engineering required to get data from a datastore or a database (DB) to the point an ML algorithm can be applied to it. This is further exacerbated since ML algorithms are now trained on large volumes of data, yet we need predictions in real-time, especially in a variety of time-series applications such as finance and real-time control systems. Hence, we explore the feasibility of directly integrating prediction functionality on top of a data store or DB. Such a system ideally: (i) provides an intuitive prediction query interface which alleviates the unwieldy data engineering; (ii) provides state-of-the-art statistical accuracy while ensuring incremental model update, low model training time and low latency for making predictions. As the main contribution we explicitly instantiate a proof-of-concept, tspDB which directly integrates with PostgreSQL. We rigorously test tspDB’s statistical and computational performance against the state-of-the-art time series algorithms, including a Long-Short-Term-Memory (LSTM) neural network and DeepAR (industry standard deep learning library by Amazon). Statistically, on standard time series benchmarks, tspDB outperforms LSTM and DeepAR with 1.1-1.3x higher relative accuracy. Computationally, tspDB is 59-62x and 94-95x faster compared to LSTM andmore »DeepAR in terms of median ML model training time and prediction query latency, respectively. Further, compared to PostgreSQL’s bulk insert time and its SELECT query latency, tspDB is slower only by 1.3x and 2.6x respectively. That is, tspDB is a real-time prediction system in that its model training / prediction query time is similar to just inserting, reading data from a DB. As an algorithmic contribution, we introduce an incremental multivariate matrix factorization based time series method, which tspDB is built off. We show this method also allows one to produce reliable prediction intervals by accurately estimating the time-varying variance of a time series, thereby addressing an important problem in time series analysis.« 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. The property of (quasi-)reversibility of Markov chains have led to elegant characterization of steady-state distribution for complex queueing networks, e.g. celebrated Jackson networks, BCMP (Baskett, Chandi, Muntz, Palacois) and Kelly theorem. In a nutshell, despite the complicated interaction, in the steady-state, the queues in such networks exhibit independence and subsequently lead to explicit calculations of distributional properties of the queuing network that may seem impossible at the outset. The model of stochastic processing network (cf. Harrison 2000) captures variety of dynamic resource allocation problems including the flow-level networks used for modeling bandwidth sharing in the Internet, switched networks (cf. Shah, Wischik 2006) for modeling packet scheduling in the Internet router and wireless medium access, and hybrid flow-packet networks for modeling job-and-packet level scheduling in data centers. Unlike before, an appropriate resource allocation or scheduling policy is required in such networks to achieve good performance. Given the complexity, asymptotic analytic approaches such as fluid model or Lyapunov-Foster criteria to establish positive-recurrence and heavy traffic or diffusion approximation to characterize the scaled steady-state distribution became method of choice. A remarkable progress has been made along these lines over the past few decades, but there is a need for much more to matchmore »the explicit calculations in the context of reversible networks. In this work, we will present an alternative to this approach that leads to non-asymptotic, explicit characterization of steady-state distribution akin BCMP / Kelly theorems. This involves (a) identifying a "relaxation" of the given stochastic processing network in terms of an appropriate (quasi-)reversible queueing network, and (b) finding a resource allocation or scheduling policy of interest that "emulates" the "relaxed" networks within "small error". The proof is in the puddling -- we will present three examples of this program: (i) distributed scheduling in wireless network, (ii) scheduling in switched networks, and (iii) flow-packet scheduling in a data center. The notion of "baseline performance" (cf. Harrison, Mandayam, Shah, Yang 2014) will naturally emerges as a consequence of this program. We will discuss open questions pertaining multi-hop networks and computation complexity.« 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.