Computational Learning Theory


Theory of Optimal Learning Machines

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Matteo Marsili from The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics with lecture titleTheory of Optimal Learning Machines is now publicy available.


Human Rademacher Complexity

Neural Information Processing Systems

We propose to use Rademacher complexity, originally developed in computational learning theory, as a measure of human learning capacity. Rademacher complexity measures a learners ability to fit random data, and can be used to bound the learners true error based on the observed training sample error. We first review the definition of Rademacher complexity and its generalization bound. We then describe a learning the noise" procedure to experimentally measure human Rademacher complexities. The results from empirical studies showed that: (i) human Rademacher complexity can be successfully measured, (ii) the complexity depends on the domain and training sample size in intuitive ways, (iii) human learning respects the generalization bounds, (iv) the bounds can be useful in predicting the danger of overfitting in human learning. Finally, we discuss the potential applications of human Rademacher complexity in cognitive science."


Potential-Based Agnostic Boosting

Neural Information Processing Systems

We prove strong noise-tolerance properties of a potential-based boosting algorithm, similar to MadaBoost (Domingo and Watanabe, 2000) and SmoothBoost (Servedio, 2003). Our analysis is in the agnostic framework of Kearns, Schapire and Sellie (1994), giving polynomial-time guarantees in presence of arbitrary noise. A remarkable feature of our algorithm is that it can be implemented without reweighting examples, by randomly relabeling them instead. Our boosting theorem gives, as easy corollaries, alternative derivations of two recent non-trivial results in computational learning theory: agnostically learning decision trees (Gopalan et al, 2008) and agnostically learning halfspaces (Kalai et al, 2005). Experiments suggest that the algorithm performs similarly to Madaboost.


Regularized Distance Metric Learning:Theory and Algorithm

Neural Information Processing Systems

In this paper, we examine the generalization error of regularized distance metric learning. We show that with appropriate constraints, the generalization error of regularized distance metric learning could be independent from the dimensionality, making it suitable for handling high dimensional data. In addition, we present an efficient online learning algorithm for regularized distance metric learning. Our empirical studies with data classification and face recognition show that the proposed algorithm is (i) effective for distance metric learning when compared to the state-of-the-art methods, and (ii) efficient and robust for high dimensional data. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.


Discrete MDL Predicts in Total Variation

Neural Information Processing Systems

The Minimum Description Length (MDL) principle selects the model that has the shortest code for data plus model. We show that for a countable class of models, MDL predictions are close to the true distribution in a strong sense. The result is completely general. No independence, ergodicity, stationarity, identifiability, or other assumption on the model class need to be made. More formally, we show that for any countable class of models, the distributions selected by MDL (or MAP) asymptotically predict (merge with) the true measure in the class in total variation distance.


A Reinforcement Learning Theory for Homeostatic Regulation

Neural Information Processing Systems

Reinforcement learning models address animal's behavioral adaptation to its changing "external" environment, and are based on the assumption that Pavlovian, habitual and goal-directed responses seek to maximize reward acquisition. Negative-feedback models of homeostatic regulation, on the other hand, are concerned with behavioral adaptation in response to the "internal" state of the animal, and assume that animals' behavioral objective is to minimize deviations of some key physiological variables from their hypothetical setpoints. Building upon the drive-reduction theory of reward, we propose a new analytical framework that integrates learning and regulatory systems, such that the two seemingly unrelated objectives of reward maximization and physiological-stability prove to be identical. The proposed theory shows behavioral adaptation to both internal and external states in a disciplined way. We further show that the proposed framework allows for a unified explanation of some behavioral phenomenon like motivational sensitivity of different associative learning mechanism, anticipatory responses, interaction among competing motivational systems, and risk aversion.


Improved Algorithms for Collaborative PAC Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

We study a recent model of collaborative PAC learning where $k$ players with $k$ different tasks collaborate to learn a single classifier that works for all tasks. Previous work showed that when there is a classifier that has very small error on all tasks, there is a collaborative algorithm that finds a single classifier for all tasks and has $O((\ln (k)) 2)$ times the worst-case sample complexity for learning a single task. The sample complexity upper bounds of our algorithms match previous lower bounds and in some range of parameters are even better than previous algorithms that are allowed to output different classifiers for different tasks. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.


Predictive PAC Learning and Process Decompositions

Neural Information Processing Systems

We informally call a stochastic process learnable if it admits a generalization error approaching zero in probability for any concept class with finite VC-dimension (IID processes are the simplest example). A mixture of learnable processes need not be learnable itself, and certainly its generalization error need not decay at the same rate. In this paper, we argue that it is natural in predictive PAC to condition not on the past observations but on the mixture component of the sample path. This definition not only matches what a realistic learner might demand, but also allows us to sidestep several otherwise grave problems in learning from dependent data. In particular, we give a novel PAC generalization bound for mixtures of learnable processes with a generalization error that is not worse than that of each mixture component.


On Fast Leverage Score Sampling and Optimal Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

Leverage score sampling provides an appealing way to perform approximate com- putations for large matrices. Indeed, it allows to derive faithful approximations with a complexity adapted to the problem at hand. Yet, performing leverage scores sampling is a challenge in its own right requiring further approximations. In this paper, we study the problem of leverage score sampling for positive definite ma- trices defined by a kernel. First we provide a novel algorithm for leverage score sampling and second, we exploit the proposed method in statistical learning by deriving a novel solver for kernel ridge regression.


Tight Bounds for Collaborative PAC Learning via Multiplicative Weights

Neural Information Processing Systems

We study the collaborative PAC learning problem recently proposed in Blum et al. \cite{BHPQ17}, in which we have $k$ players and they want to learn a target function collaboratively, such that the learned function approximates the target function well on all players' distributions simultaneously. The quality of the collaborative learning algorithm is measured by the ratio between the sample complexity of the algorithm and that of the learning algorithm for a single distribution (called the overhead). We obtain a collaborative learning algorithm with overhead $O(\ln k)$, improving the one with overhead $O(\ln 2 k)$ in \cite{BHPQ17}. We also show that an $\Omega(\ln k)$ overhead is inevitable when $k$ is polynomial bounded by the VC dimension of the hypothesis class. Finally, our experimental study has demonstrated the superiority of our algorithm compared with the one in Blum et al. \cite{BHPQ17} on real-world datasets.