Agent Behavior Prediction and Its Generalization Analysis

Fei Tian, Haifang Li, Wei Chen, Tao Qin, Enhong Chen, Tie-Yan Liu

Machine learning algorithms have been applied to predict agent behaviors in real-world dynamic systems, such as advertiser behaviors in sponsored search and worker behaviors in crowdsourcing. The behavior data in these systems are generated by live agents: once the systems change due to the adoption of the prediction models learnt from the behavior data, agents will observe and respond to these changes by changing their own behaviors accordingly. As a result, the behavior data will evolve and will not be identically and independently distributed, posing great challenges to the theoretical analysis on the machine learning algorithms for behavior prediction. To tackle this challenge, in this paper, we propose to use Markov Chain in Random Environments (MCRE) to describe the behavior data, and perform generalization analysis of the machine learning algorithms on its basis. Since the one-step transition probability matrix of MCRE depends on both previous states and the random environment, conventional techniques for generalization analysis cannot be directly applied. To address this issue, we propose a novel technique that transforms the original MCRE into a higher-dimensional time-homogeneous Markov chain. The new Markov chain involves more variables but is more regular, and thus easier to deal with. We prove the convergence of the new Markov chain when time approaches infinity. Then we prove a generalization bound for the machine learning algorithms on the behavior data generated by the new Markov chain, which depends on both the Markovian parameters and the covering number of the function class compounded by the loss function for behavior prediction and the behavior prediction model. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that performs the generalization analysis on data generated by complex processes in real-world dynamic systems.

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