This paper addresses the problem of online learning in a dynamic setting. We consider a social network in which each individual observes a private signal about the underlying state of the world and communicates with her neighbors at each time period. Unlike many existing approaches, the underlying state is dynamic, and evolves according to a geometric random walk. We view the scenario as an optimization problem where agents aim to learn the true state while suffering the smallest possible loss. Based on the decomposition of the global loss function, we introduce two update mechanisms, each of which generates an estimate of the true state. We establish a tight bound on the rate of change of the underlying state, under which individuals can track the parameter with a bounded variance. Then, we characterize explicit expressions for the steady state mean-square deviation(MSD) of the estimates from the truth, per individual. We observe that only one of the estimators recovers the optimal MSD, which underscores the impact of the objective function decomposition on the learning quality. Finally, we provide an upper bound on the regret of the proposed methods, measured as an average of errors in estimating the parameter in a finite time.
This paper addresses the problem of online learning in a dynamic setting. We consider a social network in which each individual observes a private signal about the underlying state of the world and communicates with her neighbors at each time period. Unlike many existing approaches, the underlying state is dynamic, and evolves according to a geometric random walk. We view the scenario as an optimization problem where agents aim to learn the true state while suffering the smallest possible loss. Based on the decomposition of the global loss function, we introduce two update mechanisms, each of which generates an estimate of the true state.
This work addresses decentralized online optimization in non-stationary environments. A network of agents aim to track the minimizer of a global time-varying convex function. The minimizer evolves according to a known dynamics corrupted by an unknown, unstructured noise. At each time, the global function can be cast as a sum of a finite number of local functions, each of which is assigned to one agent in the network. Moreover, the local functions become available to agents sequentially, and agents do not have a prior knowledge of the future cost functions. Therefore, agents must communicate with each other to build an online approximation of the global function. We propose a decentralized variation of the celebrated Mirror Descent, developed by Nemirovksi and Yudin. Using the notion of Bregman divergence in lieu of Euclidean distance for projection, Mirror Descent has been shown to be a powerful tool in large-scale optimization. Our algorithm builds on Mirror Descent, while ensuring that agents perform a consensus step to follow the global function and take into account the dynamics of the global minimizer. To measure the performance of the proposed online algorithm, we compare it to its offline counterpart, where the global functions are available a priori. The gap between the two is called dynamic regret. We establish a regret bound that scales inversely in the spectral gap of the network, and more notably it represents the deviation of minimizer sequence with respect to the given dynamics. We then show that our results subsume a number of results in distributed optimization. We demonstrate the application of our method to decentralized tracking of dynamic parameters and verify the results via numerical experiments.
In this paper we present an optimization-based view of distributed parameter estimation and observational social learning in networks. Agents receive a sequence of random, independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) signals, each of which individually may not be informative about the underlying true state, but the signals together are globally informative enough to make the true state identifiable. Using an optimization-based characterization of Bayesian learning as proximal stochastic gradient descent (with Kullback-Leibler divergence from a prior as a proximal function), we show how to efficiently use a distributed, online variant of Nesterov's dual averaging method to solve the estimation with purely local information. When the true state is globally identifiable, and the network is connected, we prove that agents eventually learn the true parameter using a randomized gossip scheme. We demonstrate that with high probability the convergence is exponentially fast with a rate dependent on the KL divergence of observations under the true state from observations under the second likeliest state. Furthermore, our work also highlights the possibility of learning under continuous adaptation of network which is a consequence of employing constant, unit stepsize for the algorithm.
This paper addresses the problem of distributed detection in multi-agent networks. Agents receive private signals about an unknown state of the world. The underlying state is globally identifiable, yet informative signals may be dispersed throughout the network. Using an optimization-based framework, we develop an iterative local strategy for updating individual beliefs. In contrast to the existing literature which focuses on asymptotic learning, we provide a finite-time analysis. Furthermore, we introduce a Kullback-Leibler cost to compare the efficiency of the algorithm to its centralized counterpart. Our bounds on the cost are expressed in terms of network size, spectral gap, centrality of each agent and relative entropy of agents' signal structures. A key observation is that distributing more informative signals to central agents results in a faster learning rate. Furthermore, optimizing the weights, we can speed up learning by improving the spectral gap. We also quantify the effect of link failures on learning speed in symmetric networks. We finally provide numerical simulations which verify our theoretical results.