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  1. We propose a new setting for testing properties of distributions while receiving samples from several distributions, but few samples per distribution. Given samples from s distributions, p_1, p_2, …, p_s, we design testers for the following problems: (1) Uniformity Testing: Testing whether all the p_i’s are uniform or ε-far from being uniform in ℓ_1-distance (2) Identity Testing: Testing whether all the p_i’s are equal to an explicitly given distribution q or ε-far from q in ℓ_1-distance, and (3) Closeness Testing: Testing whether all the p_i’s are equal to a distribution q which we have sample access to, or ε-far from q in ℓ_1-distance. By assuming an additional natural condition about the source distributions, we provide sample optimal testers for all of these problems.
  2. We consider the classical problem of selling a single item to a single bidder whose value for the item is drawn from a regular distribution F, in a "data-poor'' regime where Fis not known to the seller, and very few samples from Fare available. Prior work [Dhangwatnotai et al '10] has shown that one sample from Fcan be used to attain a 1/2-factor approximation to the optimal revenue, but it has been challenging to improve this guarantee when more samples from Fare provided, even when two samples from Fare provided. In this case, the best approximation known to date is 0.509, achieved by the Empirical Revenue Maximizing (ERM) mechanism Babaioff et al. '18]. We improve this guarantee to 0.558, and provide a lower bound of 0.65. Our results are based on a general framework, based on factor-revealing Semidefinite Programming relaxations aiming to capture as tight as possible a superset of product measures of regular distributions, the challenge being that neither regularity constraints nor product measures are convex constraints. The framework is general and can be applied in more abstract settings to evaluate the performance of a policy chosen using independent samples from a distribution and applied on a fresh samplemore »from that same distribution.« less
  3. We design a Local Computation Algorithm (LCA) for the set cover problem. Given a set system where each set has size at most s and each element is contained in at most t sets, the algorithm reports whether a given set is in some fixed set cover whose expected size is O(log s) times the minimum fractional set cover value. Our algorithm requires sO(log s) tO(log s+log log t)) queries. This result improves upon the application of the reduction of [Parnas and Ron, TCS’07] on the result of [Kuhn et al., SODA’06], which leads to a query complexity of (st) O(log s · log t). To obtain this result, we design a parallel set cover algorithm that admits an efficient simulation in the LCA model by using a sparsification technique introduced in [Ghaffari and Uitto, SODA’19] for the maximal independent set problem. The parallel algorithm adds a random subset of the sets to the solution in a style similar to the PRAM algorithm of [Berger et al., FOCS’89]. However, our algorithm differs in the way that it never revokes its decisions, which results in a fewer number of adaptive rounds. This requires a novel approximation analysis which might be ofmore »independent interest.« less
  4. A probability distribution over the Boolean cube is monotone if flipping the value of a coordinate from zero to one can only increase the probability of an element. Given samples of an unknown monotone distribution over the Boolean cube, we give (to our knowledge) the first algorithm that learns an approximation of the distribution in statistical distance using a number of samples that is sublinear in the domain. To do this, we develop a structural lemma describing monotone probability distributions. The structural lemma has further implications to the sample complexity of basic testing tasks for analyzing monotone probability distributions over the Boolean cube: We use it to give nontrivial upper bounds on the tasks of estimating the distance of a monotone distribution to uniform and of estimating the support size of a monotone distribution. In the setting of monotone probability distributions over the Boolean cube, our algorithms are the first to have sample complexity lower than known lower bounds for the same testing tasks on arbitrary (not necessarily monotone) probability distributions. One further consequence of our learning algorithm is an improved sample complexity for the task of testing whether a distribution on the Boolean cube is monotone.
  5. Consider an algorithm performing a computation on a huge random object (for example a random graph or a "long" random walk). Is it necessary to generate the entire object prior to the computation, or is it possible to provide query access to the object and sample it incrementally "on-the-fly" (as requested by the algorithm)? Such an implementation should emulate the random object by answering queries in a manner consistent with an instance of the random object sampled from the true distribution (or close to it). This paradigm is useful when the algorithm is sub-linear and thus, sampling the entire object up front would ruin its efficiency. Our first set of results focus on undirected graphs with independent edge probabilities, i.e. each edge is chosen as an independent Bernoulli random variable. We provide a general implementation for this model under certain assumptions. Then, we use this to obtain the first efficient local implementations for the Erdös-Rényi G(n,p) model for all values of p, and the Stochastic Block model. As in previous local-access implementations for random graphs, we support Vertex-Pair and Next-Neighbor queries. In addition, we introduce a new Random-Neighbor query. Next, we give the first local-access implementation for All-Neighbors queries inmore »the (sparse and directed) Kleinberg’s Small-World model. Our implementations require no pre-processing time, and answer each query using O(poly(log n)) time, random bits, and additional space. Next, we show how to implement random Catalan objects, specifically focusing on Dyck paths (balanced random walks on the integer line that are always non-negative). Here, we support Height queries to find the location of the walk, and First-Return queries to find the time when the walk returns to a specified location. This in turn can be used to implement Next-Neighbor queries on random rooted ordered trees, and Matching-Bracket queries on random well bracketed expressions (the Dyck language). Finally, we introduce two features to define a new model that: (1) allows multiple independent (and even simultaneous) instantiations of the same implementation, to be consistent with each other without the need for communication, (2) allows us to generate a richer class of random objects that do not have a succinct description. Specifically, we study uniformly random valid q-colorings of an input graph G with maximum degree Δ. This is in contrast to prior work in the area, where the relevant random objects are defined as a distribution with O(1) parameters (for example, n and p in the G(n,p) model). The distribution over valid colorings is instead specified via a "huge" input (the underlying graph G), that is far too large to be read by a sub-linear time algorithm. Instead, our implementation accesses G through local neighborhood probes, and is able to answer queries to the color of any given vertex in sub-linear time for q ≥ 9Δ, in a manner that is consistent with a specific random valid coloring of G. Furthermore, the implementation is memory-less, and can maintain consistency with non-communicating copies of itself.« less
  6. In this paper we study the smooth convex-concave saddle point problem. Specifically, we analyze the last iterate convergence properties of the Extragradient (EG) algorithm. It is well known that the ergodic (averaged) iterates of EG converge at a rate of O(1/T) (Nemirovski, 2004). In this paper, we show that the last iterate of EG converges at a rate of O(1/T‾‾√). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to provide a convergence rate guarantee for the last iterate of EG for the smooth convex-concave saddle point problem. Moreover, we show that this rate is tight by proving a lower bound of Ω(1/T‾‾√) for the last iterate. This lower bound therefore shows a quadratic separation of the convergence rates of ergodic and last iterates in smooth convex-concave saddle point problems.
  7. We study the search problem class PPA_q defined as a modulo-q analog of the well-known polynomial parity argument class PPA introduced by Papadimitriou (JCSS 1994). Our first result shows that this class can be characterized in terms of PPA_p for prime p. Our main result is to establish that an explicit version of a search problem associated to the Chevalley - Warning theorem is complete for PPA_p for prime p. This problem is natural in that it does not explicitly involve circuits as part of the input. It is the first such complete problem for PPA_p when p ≥ 3. Finally we discuss connections between Chevalley-Warning theorem and the well-studied short integer solution problem and survey the structural properties of PPA_q.
  8. We identify the first static credible mechanism for multi-item additive auctions that achieves a constant factor of the optimal revenue. This is one instance of a more general framework for designing two-part tariff auctions, adapting the duality framework of Cai et al [CDW16]. Given a (not necessarily incentive compatible) auction format A satisfying certain technical conditions, our framework augments the auction with a personalized entry fee for each bidder, which must be paid before the auction can be accessed. These entry fees depend only on the prior distribution of bidder types, and in particular are independent of realized bids. Our framework can be used with many common auction formats, such as simultaneous first-price, simultaneous second-price, and simultaneous all-pay auctions. If all-pay auctions are used, we prove that the resulting mechanism is credible in the sense that the auctioneer cannot benefit by deviating from the stated mechanism after observing agent bids. If second-price auctions are used, we obtain a truthful O(1)-approximate mechanism with fixed entry fees that are amenable to tuning via online learning techniques. Our results for first price and all-pay are the first revenue guarantees of non-truthful mechanisms in multi-dimensional environments; an open question in the literature [RST17].
  9. We study the question of obtaining last-iterate convergence rates for no-regret learning algorithms in multi-player games. We show that the optimistic gradient (OG) algorithm with a constant step-size, which is no-regret, achieves a last-iterate rate of O(1/T‾‾√) with respect to the gap function in smooth monotone games. This result addresses a question of Mertikopoulos & Zhou (2018), who asked whether extra-gradient approaches (such as OG) can be applied to achieve improved guarantees in the multi-agent learning setting. The proof of our upper bound uses a new technique centered around an adaptive choice of potential function at each iteration. We also show that the O(1/T‾‾√) rate is tight for all p-SCLI algorithms, which includes OG as a special case. As a byproduct of our lower bound analysis we additionally present a proof of a conjecture of Arjevani et al. (2015) which is more direct than previous approaches.
  10. We obtain global, non-asymptotic convergence guarantees for independent learning algorithms in competitive reinforcement learning settings with two agents (i.e., zero-sum stochastic games). We consider an episodic setting where in each episode, each player independently selects a policy and observes only their own actions and rewards, along with the state. We show that if both players run policy gradient methods in tandem, their policies will converge to a min-max equilibrium of the game, as long as their learning rates follow a two-timescale rule (which is necessary). To the best of our knowledge, this constitutes the first finite-sample convergence result for independent policy gradient methods in competitive RL; prior work has largely focused on centralized, coordinated procedures for equilibrium computation.