Slawski, Martin

Sparse recovery by thresholded non-negative least squares

Neural Information Processing Systems

Non-negative data are commonly encountered in numerous fields, making non-negative least squares regression (NNLS) a frequently used tool. At least relative to its simplicity, it often performs rather well in practice. Serious doubts about its usefulness arise for modern high-dimensional linear models. Even in this setting - unlike first intuition may suggest - we show that for a broad class of designs, NNLS is resistant to overfitting and works excellently for sparse recovery when combined with thresholding, experimentally even outperforming L1-regularization. Since NNLS also circumvents the delicate choice of a regularization parameter, our findings suggest that NNLS may be the method of choice.

Matrix factorization with binary components

Neural Information Processing Systems

Motivated by an application in computational biology, we consider constrained low-rank matrix factorization problems with $\{0,1\}$-constraints on one of the factors. In addition to the the non-convexity shared with more general matrix factorization schemes, our problem is further complicated by a combinatorial constraint set of size $2 {m \cdot r}$, where $m$ is the dimension of the data points and $r$ the rank of the factorization. Despite apparent intractability, we provide $-$in the line of recent work on non-negative matrix factorization by Arora et al. (2012)$-$ an algorithm that provably recovers the underlying factorization in the exact case with operations of the order $O(m r 2 r mnr)$ in the worst case. To obtain that result, we invoke theory centered around a fundamental result in combinatorics, the Littlewood-Offord lemma. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

Simple strategies for recovering inner products from coarsely quantized random projections

Neural Information Processing Systems

Random projections have been increasingly adopted for a diverse set of tasks in machine learning involving dimensionality reduction. One specific line of research on this topic has investigated the use of quantization subsequent to projection with the aim of additional data compression. Motivated by applications in nearest neighbor search and linear learning, we revisit the problem of recovering inner products (respectively cosine similarities) in such setting. We show that even under coarse scalar quantization with 3 to 5 bits per projection, the loss in accuracy tends to range from negligible'' to moderate''. One implication is that in most scenarios of practical interest, there is no need for a sophisticated recovery approach like maximum likelihood estimation as considered in previous work on the subject.

Regularization-Free Estimation in Trace Regression with Symmetric Positive Semidefinite Matrices

Neural Information Processing Systems

Trace regression models have received considerable attention in the context of matrix completion, quantum state tomography, and compressed sensing. Estimation of the underlying matrix from regularization-based approaches promoting low-rankedness, notably nuclear norm regularization, have enjoyed great popularity. In this paper, we argue that such regularization may no longer be necessary if the underlying matrix is symmetric positive semidefinite (spd) and the design satisfies certain conditions. In this situation, simple least squares estimation subject to an spd constraint may perform as well as regularization-based approaches with a proper choice of regularization parameter, which entails knowledge of the noise level and/or tuning. By contrast, constrained least squaresestimation comes without any tuning parameter and may hence be preferred due to its simplicity.

Quantized Random Projections and Non-Linear Estimation of Cosine Similarity

Neural Information Processing Systems

Random projections constitute a simple, yet effective technique for dimensionality reduction with applications in learning and search problems. In the present paper, we consider the problem of estimating cosine similarities when the projected data undergo scalar quantization to $b$ bits. We here argue that the maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) is a principled approach to deal with the non-linearity resulting from quantization, and subsequently study its computational and statistical properties. A specific focus is on the on the trade-off between bit depth and the number of projections given a fixed budget of bits for storage or transmission. Along the way, we also touch upon the existence of a qualitative counterpart to the Johnson-Lindenstrauss lemma in the presence of quantization.

b-bit Marginal Regression

Neural Information Processing Systems

We consider the problem of sparse signal recovery from $m$ linear measurements quantized to $b$ bits. We study the question of choosing $b$ in the setting of a given budget of bits $B m \cdot b$ and derive a single easy-to-compute expression characterizing the trade-off between $m$ and $b$. The choice $b 1$ turns out to be optimal for estimating the unit vector corresponding to the signal for any level of additive Gaussian noise before quantization as well as for adversarial noise. For $b \geq 2$, we show that Lloyd-Max quantization constitutes an optimal quantization scheme and that the norm of the signal canbe estimated consistently by maximum likelihood. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

A Pseudo-Likelihood Approach to Linear Regression with Partially Shuffled Data Machine Learning

Recently, there has been significant interest in linear regression in the situation where predictors and responses are not observed in matching pairs corresponding to the same statistical unit as a consequence of separate data collection and uncertainty in data integration. Mismatched pairs can considerably impact the model fit and disrupt the estimation of regression parameters. In this paper, we present a method to adjust for such mismatches under ``partial shuffling" in which a sufficiently large fraction of (predictors, response)-pairs are observed in their correct correspondence. The proposed approach is based on a pseudo-likelihood in which each term takes the form of a two-component mixture density. Expectation-Maximization schemes are proposed for optimization, which (i) scale favorably in the number of samples, and (ii) achieve excellent statistical performance relative to an oracle that has access to the correct pairings as certified by simulations and case studies. In particular, the proposed approach can tolerate considerably larger fraction of mismatches than existing approaches, and enables estimation of the noise level as well as the fraction of mismatches. Inference for the resulting estimator (standard errors, confidence intervals) can be based on established theory for composite likelihood estimation. Along the way, we also propose a statistical test for the presence of mismatches and establish its consistency under suitable conditions.

Permutation Recovery from Multiple Measurement Vectors in Unlabeled Sensing Machine Learning

In "Unlabeled Sensing", one observes a set of linear measurements of an underlying signal with incomplete or missing information about their ordering, which can be modeled in terms of an unknown permutation. Previous work on the case of a single noisy measurement vector has exposed two main challenges: 1) a high requirement concerning the \emph{signal-to-noise ratio} (snr), i.e., approximately of the order of $n^{5}$, and 2) a massive computational burden in light of NP-hardness in general. In this paper, we study the case of \emph{multiple} noisy measurement vectors (MMVs) resulting from a \emph{common} permutation and investigate to what extent the number of MMVs $m$ facilitates permutation recovery by "borrowing strength". The above two challenges have at least partially been resolved within our work. First, we show that a large stable rank of the signal significantly reduces the required snr which can drop from a polynomial in $n$ for $m = 1$ to a constant for $m = \Omega(\log n)$, where $m$ denotes the number of MMVs and $n$ denotes the number of measurements per MV. This bound is shown to be sharp and is associated with a phase transition phenomenon. Second, we propose computational schemes for recovering the unknown permutation in practice. For the "oracle case" with the known signal, the maximum likelihood (ML) estimator reduces to a linear assignment problem whose global optimum can be obtained efficiently. For the case in which both the signal and permutation are unknown, the problem is reformulated as a bi-convex optimization problem with an auxiliary variable, which can be solved by the Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers (ADMM). Numerical experiments based on the proposed computational schemes confirm the tightness of our theoretical analysis.

A Two-Stage Approach to Multivariate Linear Regression with Sparsely Mismatched Data Machine Learning

A tacit assumption in linear regression is that (response, predictor)-pairs correspond to identical observational units. A series of recent works have studied scenarios in which this assumption is violated under terms such as ``Unlabeled Sensing and ``Regression with Unknown Permutation''. In this paper, we study the setup of multiple response variables and a notion of mismatches that generalizes permutations in order to allow for missing matches as well as for one-to-many matches. A two-stage method is proposed under the assumption that most pairs are correctly matched. In the first stage, the regression parameter is estimated by handling mismatches as contaminations, and subsequently the generalized permutation is estimated by a basic variant of matching. The approach is both computationally convenient and equipped with favorable statistical guarantees. Specifically, it is shown that the conditions for permutation recovery become considerably less stringent as the number of responses $m$ per observation increase. Particularly, for $m = \Omega(\log n)$, the required signal-to-noise ratio does no longer depend on the sample size $n$. Numerical results on synthetic and real data are presented to support the main findings of our analysis.

A Note on Coding and Standardization of Categorical Variables in (Sparse) Group Lasso Regression Machine Learning

Categorical regressor variables are usually handled by introducing a set of indicator variables, and imposing a linear constraint to ensure identifiability in the presence of an intercept, or equivalently, using one of various coding schemes. As proposed in Yuan and Lin [J. R. Statist. Soc. B, 68 (2006), 49-67], the group lasso is a natural and computationally convenient approach to perform variable selection in settings with categorical covariates. As pointed out by Simon and Tibshirani [Stat. Sin., 22 (2011), 983-1001], "standardization" by means of block-wise orthonormalization of column submatrices each corresponding to one group of variables can substantially boost performance. In this note, we study the aspect of standardization for the special case of categorical predictors in detail. The main result is that orthonormalization is not required; column-wise scaling of the design matrix followed by re-scaling and centering of the coefficients is shown to have exactly the same effect. Similar reductions can be achieved in the case of interactions. The extension to the so-called sparse group lasso, which additionally promotes within-group sparsity, is considered as well. The importance of proper standardization is illustrated via extensive simulations.