Online Learning with Predictable Sequences

author: Alexander Rakhlin, Statistics Department, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
published: Aug. 9, 2013,   recorded: June 2013,   views: 4101


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We present methods for online linear optimization that take advantage of benign (as opposed to worst-case) sequences. Specifically if the sequence encountered by the learner is described well by a known “predictable process”, the algorithms presented enjoy tighter bounds as compared to the typical worst case bounds. Additionally, the methods achieve the usual worst-case regret bounds if the sequence is not benign. Our approach can be seen as a way of adding prior knowledge about the sequence within the paradigm of online learning. The setting is shown to encompass partial and side information. Variance and path-length bounds can be seen as particular examples of online learning with simple predictable sequences.We further extend our methods to include competing with a set of possible predictable processes (models), that is “learning” the predictable process itself concurrently with using it to obtain better regret guarantees. We show that such model selection is possible under various assumptions on the available feedback.

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