We consider online convex optimization when a number k of data points are outliers that may be corrupted. We model this by introducing the notion of robust regret, which measures the regret only on rounds that are not outliers. The aim for the learner is to achieve small robust regret, without knowing where the outliers are. If the outliers are chosen adversarially, we show that a simple filtering strategy on extreme gradients incurs O(k) additive overhead compared to the usual regret bounds, and that this is unimprovable, which means that k needs to be sublinear in the number of rounds. We further ask which additional assumptions would allow for a linear number of outliers. It turns out that the usual benign cases of independently, identically distributed (i.i.d.) observa- tions or strongly convex losses are not sufficient. However, combining i.i.d. observations with the assumption that outliers are those observations that are in an extreme quantile of the distribution, does lead to sublinear robust regret, even though the expected number of outliers is linear. Keywords: Online convex optimization, robustness, outliers

Proceedings of Machine Learning Research
Annual Conference on Learning Theory
Machine Learning

van Erven, T., Sachs, S., Koolen-Wijkstra, W., & Kotlowski, W. (2021). Robust online convex optimization in the presence of outliers Robust online convex optimization in the presence of outliers. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning.