We analyze a model of learning and belief formation in networks in which agents follow Bayes rule yet they do not recall their history of past observations and cannot reason about how other agents' beliefs are formed. They do so by making rational inferences about their observations which include a sequence of independent and identically distributed private signals as well as the beliefs of their neighboring agents at each time. Fully rational agents would successively apply Bayes rule to the entire history of observations. This leads to forebodingly complex inferences due to lack of knowledge about the global network structure that causes those observations. To address these complexities, we consider a Learning without Recall model, which in addition to providing a tractable framework for analyzing the behavior of rational agents in social networks, can also provide a behavioral foundation for the variety of non-Bayesian update rules in the literature. We present the implications of various choices for time-varying priors of such agents and how this choice affects learning and its rate.
We consider a distributed learning setup where a network of agents sequentially access realizations of a set of random variables with unknown distributions. The network objective is to find a parametrized distribution that best describes their joint observations in the sense of the Kullback-Leibler divergence. Apart from recent efforts in the literature, we analyze the case of countably many hypotheses and the case of a continuum of hypotheses. We provide non-asymptotic bounds for the concentration rate of the agents' beliefs around the correct hypothesis in terms of the number of agents, the network parameters, and the learning abilities of the agents. Additionally, we provide a novel motivation for a general set of distributed Non-Bayesian update rules as instances of the distributed stochastic mirror descent algorithm.
We present a distributed (non-Bayesian) learning algorithm for the problem of parameter estimation with Gaussian noise. The algorithm is expressed as explicit updates on the parameters of the Gaussian beliefs (i.e. means and precision). We show a convergence rate of $O(1/k)$ with the constant term depending on the number of agents and the topology of the network. Moreover, we show almost sure convergence to the optimal solution of the estimation problem for the general case of time-varying directed graphs.
A network of agents attempt to learn some unknown state of the world drawn by nature from a finite set. Agents observe private signals conditioned on the true state, and form beliefs about the unknown state accordingly. Each agent may face an identification problem in the sense that she cannot distinguish the truth in isolation. However, by communicating with each other, agents are able to benefit from side observations to learn the truth collectively. Unlike many distributed algorithms which rely on all-time communication protocols, we propose an efficient method by switching between Bayesian and non-Bayesian regimes. In this model, agents exchange information only when their private signals are not informative enough; thence, by switching between the two regimes, agents efficiently learn the truth using only a few rounds of communications. The proposed algorithm preserves learnability while incurring a lower communication cost. We also verify our theoretical findings by simulation examples.
We consider several estimation and learning problems that networked agents face when making decisions given their uncertainty about an unknown variable. Our methods are designed to efficiently deal with heterogeneity in both size and quality of the observed data, as well as heterogeneity over time (intermittence). The goal of the studied aggregation schemes is to efficiently combine the observed data that is spread over time and across several network nodes, accounting for all the network heterogeneities. Moreover, we require no form of coordination beyond the local neighborhood of every network agent or sensor node. The three problems that we consider are (i) maximum likelihood estimation of the unknown given initial data sets, (ii) learning the true model parameter from streams of data that the agents receive intermittently over time, and (iii) minimum variance estimation of a complete sufficient statistic from several data points that the networked agents collect over time. In each case we rely on an aggregation scheme to combine the observations of all agents; moreover, when the agents receive streams of data over time, we modify the update rules to accommodate the most recent observations. In every case, we demonstrate the efficiency of our algorithms by proving convergence to the globally efficient estimators given the observations of all agents. We supplement these results by investigating the rate of convergence and providing finite-time performance guarantees.