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  1. We focus on robust estimation of the unobserved state of a discrete-time stochastic system with linear dynamics. A standard analysis of this estimation problem assumes a baseline innovation model; with Gaussian innovations we recover the Kalman filter. However, in many settings, there is insufficient or corrupted data to validate the baseline model. To cope with this problem, we minimize the worst-case mean-squared estimation error of adversarial models chosen within a Wasserstein neighborhood around the baseline. We also constrain the adversarial innovations to form a martingale difference sequence. The martingale constraint relaxes the i.i.d. assumptions which are often imposed on the baseline model. Moreover, we show that the martingale constraints guarantee that the adversarial dynamics remain adapted to the natural time-generated information. Therefore, adding the martingale constraint allows to improve upon over-conservative policies that also protect against unrealistic omniscient adversaries. We establish a strong duality result which we use to develop an efficient subgradient method to compute the distributionally robust estimation policy. If the baseline innovations are Gaussian, we show that the worst-case adversary remains Gaussian. Our numerical experiments indicate that the martingale constraint may also aid in adding a layer of robustness in the choice of the adversarial power. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 20, 2024
  2. The goal of this paper is to develop a methodology for the systematic analysis of asymptotic statistical properties of data-driven DRO formulations based on their corresponding non-DRO counterparts. We illustrate our approach in various settings, including both phidivergence and Wasserstein uncertainty sets. Different types of asymptotic behaviors are obtained depending on the rate at which the uncertainty radius decreases to zero as a function of the sample size and the geometry of the uncertainty sets. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 27, 2024
  3. Distributionally robust optimization (DRO) has been shown to offer a principled way to regularize learning models. In this paper, we find that Tikhonov regularization is distributionally robust in an optimal transport sense (i.e. if an adversary chooses distributions in a suitable optimal transport neighborhood of the empirical measure), provided that suitable martingale constraints are also imposed. Further, we introduce a relaxation of the martingale constraints which not only provide a unified viewpoint to a class of existing robust methods but also lead to new regularization tools. To realize these novel tools, provably efficient computational algorithms are proposed. As a byproduct, the strong duality theorem proved in this paper can be potentially applied to other problems of independent interest. 
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  4. We study the problem of transfer learning, observing that previous efforts to understand its information-theoretic limits do not fully exploit the geometric structure of the source and target domains. In contrast, our study first illustrates the benefits of incorporating a natural geometric structure within a linear regression model, which corresponds to the generalized eigenvalue problem formed by the Gram matrices of both domains. We next establish a finite-sample minimax lower bound, propose a refined model interpolation estimator that enjoys a matching upper bound, and then extend our framework to multiple source domains and generalized linear models. Surprisingly, as long as information is available on the distance between the source and target parameters, negative-transfer does not occur. Simulation studies show that our proposed interpolation estimator outperforms state-of-the-art transfer learning methods in both moderate- and high-dimensional settings. 
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  5. Chaudhuri, Kamalika ; Jegelka, Stefanie ; Song, Le ; Szepesvari, Csaba ; Niu, Gang ; Sabato, Sivan (Ed.)
    Reinforcement learning (RL) has demonstrated remarkable achievements in simulated environments. However, carrying this success to real environments requires the important attribute of robustness, which the existing RL algorithms often lack as they assume that the future deployment environment is the same as the training environment (i.e. simulator) in which the policy is learned. This assumption often does not hold due to the discrepancy between the simulator and the real environment and, as a result, and hence renders the learned policy fragile when deployed. In this paper, we propose a novel distributionally robust Q-learning algorithm that learns the best policy in the worst distributional perturbation of the environment. Our algorithm first transforms the infinite-dimensional learning problem (since the environment MDP perturbation lies in an infinite-dimensional space) into a finite-dimensional dual problem and subsequently uses a multi-level Monte-Carlo scheme to approximate the dual value using samples from the simulator. Despite the complexity, we show that the resulting distributionally robust Q-learning algorithm asymptotically converges to optimal worst-case policy, thus making it robust to future environment changes. Simulation results further demonstrate its strong empirical robustness. 
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