Sequential Learning without Feedback

Manjesh Hanawal, Csaba Szepesvari, Venkatesh Saligrama

In many security and healthcare systems a sequence of features/sensors/tests are used for detection and diagnosis. Each test outputs a prediction of the latent state, and carries with it inherent costs. Our objective is to {\it learn} strategies for selecting tests to optimize accuracy \& costs. Unfortunately it is often impossible to acquire in-situ ground truth annotations and we are left with the problem of unsupervised sensor selection (USS). We pose USS as a version of stochastic partial monitoring problem with an {\it unusual} reward structure (even noisy annotations are unavailable). Unsurprisingly no learner can achieve sublinear regret without further assumptions. To this end we propose the notion of weak-dominance. This is a condition on the joint probability distribution of test outputs and latent state and says that whenever a test is accurate on an example, a later test in the sequence is likely to be accurate as well. We empirically verify that weak dominance holds on real datasets and prove that it is a maximal condition for achieving sublinear regret. We reduce USS to a special case of multi-armed bandit problem with side information and develop polynomial time algorithms that achieve sublinear regret.

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