Hierarchies of Relaxations for Online Prediction Problems with Evolving Constraints


Alexander Rakhlin, Karthik Sridharan ;
Proceedings of The 28th Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 40:1457-1479, 2015.


We study online prediction where regret of the algorithm is measured against a benchmark defined via evolving constraints. This framework captures online prediction on graphs, as well as other prediction problems with combinatorial structure. A key aspect here is that finding the optimal benchmark predictor (even in hindsight, given all the data) might be computationally hard due to the combinatorial nature of the constraints. Despite this, we provide polynomial-time prediction algorithms that achieve low regret against combinatorial benchmark sets. We do so by building improper learning algorithms based on two ideas that work together. The first is to alleviate part of the computational burden through random playout, and the second is to employ Lasserre semidefinite hierarchies to approximate the resulting integer program. Interestingly, for our prediction algorithms, we only need to compute the values of the semidefinite programs and not the rounded solutions. However, the integrality gap for Lasserre hierarchy does enter the generic regret bound in terms of Rademacher complexity of the benchmark set. This establishes a trade-off between the computation time and the regret bound of the algorithm.

Related Material