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# Pseudonorm Approachability and Applications to Regret Minimization

*Proceedings of The 34th International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory*, PMLR 201:471-509, 2023.

#### Abstract

Blackwell’s celebrated approachability theory provides a general framework for a variety of learning problems, including regret minimization. However, Blackwell’s proof and implicit algorithm measure approachability using the $\ell_2$ (Euclidean) distance. We argue that in many applications such as regret minimization, it is more useful to study approachability under other distance metrics, most commonly the $\ell_\infty$-metric. But, the time and space complexity of the algorithms designed for $\ell_\infty$-approachability depend on the dimension of the space of the vectorial payoffs, which is often prohibitively large. Thus, we present a framework for converting high-dimensional $\ell_\infty$-approachability problems to low-dimensional \emph{pseudonorm} approachability problems, thereby resolving such issues. We first show that the $\ell_\infty$-distance between the average payoff and the approachability set can be equivalently defined as a \emph{pseudodistance} between a lower-dimensional average vector payoff and a new convex set we define. Next, we develop an algorithmic theory of pseudonorm approachability, analogous to previous work on approachability for $\ell_2$ and other norms, showing that it can be achieved via online linear optimization (OLO) over a convex set given by the Fenchel dual of the unit pseudonorm ball. We then use that to show, modulo mild normalization assumptions, that there exists an $\ell_\infty$-approachability algorithm whose convergence is independent of the dimension of the original vectorial payoff. We further show that that algorithm admits a polynomial-time complexity, assuming that the original $\ell_\infty$-distance can be computed efficiently. We also give an $\ell_\infty$-approachability algorithm whose convergence is logarithmic in that dimension using an FTRL algorithm with a maximum-entropy regularizer. Finally, we illustrate the benefits of our framework by applying it to several problems in regret minimization.