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Crowdsourcing via Pairwise Co-occurrences: Identifiability and Algorithms

Neural Information Processing Systems

The data deluge comes with high demands for data labeling. Crowdsourcing (or, more generally, ensemble learning) techniques aim to produce accurate labels via integrating noisy, non-expert labeling from annotators. The classic Dawid-Skene estimator and its accompanying expectation maximization (EM) algorithm have been widely used, but the theoretical properties are not fully understood. Tensor methods were proposed to guarantee identification of the Dawid-Skene model, but the sample complexity is a hurdle for applying such approaches---since the tensor methods hinge on the availability of third-order statistics that are hard to reliably estimate given limited data. In this paper, we propose a framework using pairwise co-occurrences of the annotator responses, which naturally admits lower sample complexity.


Dynamic Task Allocation for Crowdsourcing Settings

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider the problem of optimal budget allocation for crowdsourcing problems, allocating users to tasks to maximize our final confidence in the crowdsourced answers. Such an optimized worker assignment method allows us to boost the efficacy of any popular crowdsourcing estimation algorithm. We consider a mutual information interpretation of the crowdsourcing problem, which leads to a stochastic subset selection problem with a submodular objective function. We present experimental simulation results which demonstrate the effectiveness of our dynamic task allocation method for achieving higher accuracy, possibly requiring fewer labels, as well as improving upon a previous method which is sensitive to the proportion of users to questions.


Fast Dawid-Skene

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Many real world problems can now be effectively solved using supervised machine learning. A major roadblock is often the lack of an adequate quantity of labeled data for training. A possible solution is to assign the task of labeling data to a crowd, and then infer the true label using aggregation methods. A well-known approach for aggregation is the Dawid-Skene (DS) algorithm, which is based on the principle of Expectation-Maximization (EM). We propose a new simple, yet effective, EM-based algorithm, which can be interpreted as a 'hard' version of DS, that allows much faster convergence while maintaining similar accuracy in aggregation. We also show how the proposed method can be extended to settings when there are multiple labels as well as for online vote aggregation. Our experiments on standard vote aggregation datasets show a significant speedup in time taken for convergence - upto $\sim$8x over Dawid-Skene and $\sim$6x over other fast EM methods, at competitive accuracy performance.


A Permutation-based Model for Crowd Labeling: Optimal Estimation and Robustness

arXiv.org Machine Learning

The aggregation and denoising of crowd labeled data is a task that has gained increased significance with the advent of crowdsourcing platforms and massive datasets. In this paper, we propose a permutation-based model for crowd labeled data that is a significant generalization of the common Dawid-Skene model, and introduce a new error metric by which to compare different estimators. Working in a high-dimensional non-asymptotic framework that allows both the number of workers and tasks to scale, we derive optimal rates of convergence for the permutation-based model. We show that the permutation-based model offers significant robustness in estimation due to its richness, while surprisingly incurring only a small additional statistical penalty as compared to the Dawid-Skene model. Finally, we propose a computationally-efficient method, called the OBI-WAN estimator, that is uniformly optimal over a class intermediate between the permutation-based and the Dawid-Skene models, and is uniformly consistent over the entire permutation-based model class. In contrast, the guarantees for estimators available in prior literature are sub-optimal over the original Dawid-Skene model.


Error Rate Bounds in Crowdsourcing Models

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Crowdsourcing is an effective tool for human-powered computation on many tasks challenging for computers. In this paper, we provide finite-sample exponential bounds on the error rate (in probability and in expectation) of hyperplane binary labeling rules under the Dawid-Skene crowdsourcing model. The bounds can be applied to analyze many common prediction methods, including the majority voting and weighted majority voting. These bound results could be useful for controlling the error rate and designing better algorithms. We show that the oracle Maximum A Posterior (MAP) rule approximately optimizes our upper bound on the mean error rate for any hyperplane binary labeling rule, and propose a simple data-driven weighted majority voting (WMV) rule (called one-step WMV) that attempts to approximate the oracle MAP and has a provable theoretical guarantee on the error rate. Moreover, we use simulated and real data to demonstrate that the data-driven EM-MAP rule is a good approximation to the oracle MAP rule, and to demonstrate that the mean error rate of the data-driven EM-MAP rule is also bounded by the mean error rate bound of the oracle MAP rule with estimated parameters plugging into the bound.