Section: New Results

Multi-agent Learning and Distributed Best Response

This section describes several independent contributions on multi-agent learning.

  • In [5], [22], [21], we study how fast can simple algorithms compute Nash equilibria. We study the case of random potential games for which we have designed and analyzed distributed algorithms to compute a Nash equilibrium. Our algorithms are based on best-response dynamics, with suitable revision sequences (orders of play). We compute the average complexity over all potential games of best response dynamics under a random i.i.d. revision sequence, since it can be implemented in a distributed way using Poisson clocks. We obtain a distributed algorithm whose execution time is within a constant factor of the optimal centralized one. We also showed how to take advantage of the structure of the interactions between players in a network game: non- interacting players can play simultaneously. This improves best response algorithm, both in the centralized and in the distributed case.

  • In [10], we study a class of evolutionary game dynamics defined by balancing a gain determined by the game's payoffs against a cost of motion that captures the difficulty with which the population moves between states. Costs of motion are represented by a Riemannian metric, i.e., a state-dependent inner product on the set of population states. The replicator dynamics and the (Euclidean) projection dynamics are the archetypal examples of the class we study. Like these representative dynamics, all Riemannian game dynamics satisfy certain basic desiderata, including positive correlation and global convergence in potential games. Moreover, when the underlying Riemannian metric satisfies a Hessian integrability condition, the resulting dynamics preserve many further properties of the replicator and projection dynamics. We examine the close connections between Hessian game dynamics and reinforcement learning in normal form games, extending and elucidating a well-known link between the replicator dynamics and exponential reinforcement learning.

  • The paper [18] examines the long-run behavior of learning with bandit feedback in non-cooperative concave games. The bandit framework accounts for extremely low-information environments where the agents may not even know they are playing a game; as such, the agents' most sensible choice in this setting would be to employ a no-regret learning algorithm. In general, this does not mean that the players' behavior stabilizes in the long run: no-regret learning may lead to cycles, even with perfect gradient information. However, if a standard monotonicity condition is satisfied, our analysis shows that no-regret learning based on mirror descent with bandit feedback converges to Nash equilibrium with probability 1. We also derive an upper bound for the convergence rate of the process that nearly matches the best attainable rate for single-agent bandit stochastic optimization.

  • In [34], we consider a game-theoretical multi-agent learning problem where the feedback information can be lost during the learning process and rewards are given by a broad class of games known as variationally stable games. We propose a simple variant of the classical online gradient descent algorithm, called reweighted online gradient descent (ROGD) and show that in variationally stable games, if each agent adopts ROGD, then almost sure convergence to the set of Nash equilibria is guaranteed, even when the feedback loss is asynchronous and arbitrarily corrrelated among agents. We then extend the framework to deal with unknown feedback loss probabilities by using an estimator (constructed from past data) in its replacement. Finally, we further extend the framework to accomodate both asynchronous loss and stochastic rewards and establish that multi-agent ROGD learning still converges to the set of Nash equilibria in such settings. Together, these results contribute to the broad lanscape of multi-agent online learning by significantly relaxing the feedback information that is required to achieve desirable outcomes.

  • Regularized learning is a fundamental technique in online optimization, machine learning and many other fields of computer science. A natural question that arises in these settings is how regularized learning algorithms behave when faced against each other. In the paper [27], we study a natural formulation of this problem by coupling regularized learning dynamics in zero-sum games. We show that the system's behavior is Poincaré recurrent, implying that almost every trajectory revisits any (arbitrarily small) neighborhood of its starting point infinitely often. This cycling behavior is robust to the agents' choice of regularization mechanism (each agent could be using a different regularizer), to positive-affine transformations of the agents' utilities, and it also persists in the case of networked competition, i.e., for zero-sum polymatrix games.