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Preference learning along multiple criteria: A game-theoretic perspective

Kush Bhatia · Ashwin Pananjady · Peter Bartlett · Anca Dragan · Martin Wainwright

Poster Session 2 #706


The literature on ranking from ordinal data is vast, and there are several ways to aggregate overall preferences from pairwise comparisons between objects. In particular, it is well-known that any Nash equilibrium of the zero-sum game induced by the preference matrix defines a natural solution concept (winning distribution over objects) known as a von Neumann winner. Many real-world problems, however, are inevitably multi-criteria, with different pairwise preferences governing the different criteria. In this work, we generalize the notion of a von Neumann winner to the multi-criteria setting by taking inspiration from Blackwell’s approachability. Our framework allows for non-linear aggregation of preferences across criteria, and generalizes the linearization-based approach from multi-objective optimization.

From a theoretical standpoint, we show that the Blackwell winner of a multi-criteria problem instance can be computed as the solution to a convex optimization problem. Furthermore, given random samples of pairwise comparisons, we show that a simple, "plug-in" estimator achieves (near-)optimal minimax sample complexity. Finally, we showcase the practical utility of our framework in a user study on autonomous driving, where we find that the Blackwell winner outperforms the von Neumann winner for the overall preferences.

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