Computational Learning Theory


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Electrification was, without a doubt, the greatest engineering marvel of the 20th century. The electric motor was invented way back in 1821, and the electrical circuit was mathematically analyzed in 1827. But factory electrification, household electrification, and railway electrification all started slowly several decades later. The field of AI was formally founded in 1956. But it's only now--more than six decades later--that AI is expected to revolutionize the way humanity will live and work in the coming decades.


Information-Theoretic Analysis of Minimax Excess Risk

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Two main concepts studied in machine learning theory are generalization gap (difference between train and test error) and excess risk (difference between test error and the minimum possible error). While information-theoretic tools have been used extensively to study the generalization gap of learning algorithms, the information-theoretic nature of excess risk has not yet been fully investigated. In this paper, some steps are taken toward this goal. We consider the frequentist problem of minimax excess risk as a zero-sum game between algorithm designer and the world. Then, we argue that it is desirable to modify this game in a way that the order of play can be swapped. We prove that, under some regularity conditions, if the world and designer can play randomly the duality gap is zero and the order of play can be changed. In this case, a Bayesian problem surfaces in the dual representation. This makes it possible to utilize recent information-theoretic results on minimum excess risk in Bayesian learning to provide bounds on the minimax excess risk. We demonstrate the applicability of the results by providing information theoretic insight on two important classes of problems: classification when the hypothesis space has finite VC-dimension, and regularized least squares.


Boosting Barely Robust Learners: A New Perspective on Adversarial Robustness

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We present an oracle-efficient algorithm for boosting the adversarial robustness of barely robust learners. Barely robust learning algorithms learn predictors that are adversarially robust only on a small fraction $\beta \ll 1$ of the data distribution. Our proposed notion of barely robust learning requires robustness with respect to a "larger" perturbation set; which we show is necessary for strongly robust learning, and that weaker relaxations are not sufficient for strongly robust learning. Our results reveal a qualitative and quantitative equivalence between two seemingly unrelated problems: strongly robust learning and barely robust learning.


Monotone Learning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The amount of training-data is one of the key factors which determines the generalization capacity of learning algorithms. Intuitively, one expects the error rate to decrease as the amount of training-data increases. Perhaps surprisingly, natural attempts to formalize this intuition give rise to interesting and challenging mathematical questions. For example, in their classical book on pattern recognition, Devroye, Gyorfi, and Lugosi (1996) ask whether there exists a {monotone} Bayes-consistent algorithm. This question remained open for over 25 years, until recently Pestov (2021) resolved it for binary classification, using an intricate construction of a monotone Bayes-consistent algorithm. We derive a general result in multiclass classification, showing that every learning algorithm A can be transformed to a monotone one with similar performance. Further, the transformation is efficient and only uses a black-box oracle access to A. This demonstrates that one can provably avoid non-monotonic behaviour without compromising performance, thus answering questions asked by Devroye et al (1996), Viering, Mey, and Loog (2019), Viering and Loog (2021), and by Mhammedi (2021). Our transformation readily implies monotone learners in a variety of contexts: for example it extends Pestov's result to classification tasks with an arbitrary number of labels. This is in contrast with Pestov's work which is tailored to binary classification. In addition, we provide uniform bounds on the error of the monotone algorithm. This makes our transformation applicable in distribution-free settings. For example, in PAC learning it implies that every learnable class admits a monotone PAC learner. This resolves questions by Viering, Mey, and Loog (2019); Viering and Loog (2021); Mhammedi (2021).


A Characterization of Semi-Supervised Adversarially-Robust PAC Learnability

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We study the problem of semi-supervised learning of an adversarially-robust predictor in the PAC model, where the learner has access to both labeled and unlabeled examples. The sample complexity in semi-supervised learning has two parameters, the number of labeled examples and the number of unlabeled examples. We consider the complexity measures, $VC_U \leq dim_U \leq VC$ and $VC^*$, where $VC$ is the standard $VC$-dimension, $VC^*$ is its dual, and the other two measures appeared in Montasser et al. (2019). The best sample bound known for robust supervised PAC learning is $O(VC \cdot VC^*)$, and we will compare our sample bounds to $\Lambda$ which is the minimal number of labeled examples required by any robust supervised PAC learning algorithm. Our main results are the following: (1) in the realizable setting it is sufficient to have $O(VC_U)$ labeled examples and $O(\Lambda)$ unlabeled examples. (2) In the agnostic setting, let $\eta$ be the minimal agnostic error. The sample complexity depends on the resulting error rate. If we allow an error of $2\eta+\epsilon$, it is still sufficient to have $O(VC_U)$ labeled examples and $O(\Lambda)$ unlabeled examples. If we insist on having an error $\eta+\epsilon$ then $\Omega(dim_U)$ labeled examples are necessary, as in the supervised case. The above results show that there is a significant benefit in semi-supervised robust learning, as there are hypothesis classes with $VC_U=0$ and $dim_U$ arbitrary large. In supervised learning, having access only to labeled examples requires at least $\Lambda \geq dim_U$ labeled examples. Semi-supervised require only $O(1)$ labeled examples and $O(\Lambda)$ unlabeled examples. A byproduct of our result is that if we assume that the distribution is robustly realizable by a hypothesis class, then with respect to the 0-1 loss we can learn with only $O(VC_U)$ labeled examples, even if the $VC$ is infinite.


Optimal learning rate schedules in high-dimensional non-convex optimization problems

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Learning rate schedules are ubiquitously used to speed up and improve optimisation. Many different policies have been introduced on an empirical basis, and theoretical analyses have been developed for convex settings. However, in many realistic problems the loss-landscape is high-dimensional and non convex -- a case for which results are scarce. In this paper we present a first analytical study of the role of learning rate scheduling in this setting, focusing on Langevin optimization with a learning rate decaying as $\eta(t)=t^{-\beta}$. We begin by considering models where the loss is a Gaussian random function on the $N$-dimensional sphere ($N\rightarrow \infty$), featuring an extensive number of critical points. We find that to speed up optimization without getting stuck in saddles, one must choose a decay rate $\beta<1$, contrary to convex setups where $\beta=1$ is generally optimal. We then add to the problem a signal to be recovered. In this setting, the dynamics decompose into two phases: an \emph{exploration} phase where the dynamics navigates through rough parts of the landscape, followed by a \emph{convergence} phase where the signal is detected and the dynamics enter a convex basin. In this case, it is optimal to keep a large learning rate during the exploration phase to escape the non-convex region as quickly as possible, then use the convex criterion $\beta=1$ to converge rapidly to the solution. Finally, we demonstrate that our conclusions hold in a common regression task involving neural networks.


Namazi

AAAI Conferences

The travelling thief problem (TTP) is a combination of two interdependent NP-hard components: travelling salesman problem (TSP) and knapsack problem (KP). Existing approaches for TTP typically solve the TSP and KP components in an interleaved fashion, where the solution to one component is held fixed while the other component is changed. This indicates poor coordination between solving the two components and may lead to poor quality TTP solutions. For solving the TSP component, the 2-OPT segment reversing heuristic is often used for modifying the tour. We propose an extended and modified form of the reversing heuristic in order to concurrently consider both the TSP and KP components. Items deemed as less profitable and picked in cities earlier in the reversed segment are replaced by items that tend to be equally or more profitable and not picked in the later cities. Comparative evaluations on a broad range of benchmark TTP instances indicate that the proposed approach outperforms existing state-of-the-art TTP solvers.


Namazi

AAAI Conferences

The travelling thief problem (TTP) is a multi-component optimisation problem involving two interdependent NP-hard components: the travelling salesman problem (TSP) and the knapsack problem (KP). Recent state-of-the-art TTP solvers modify the underlying TSP and KP solutions in an iterative and interleaved fashion. The TSP solution (cyclic tour) is typically changed in a deterministic way, while changes to the KP solution typically involve a random search, effectively resulting in a quasi-meandering exploration of the TTP solution space. Once a plateau is reached, the iterative search of the TTP solution space is restarted by using a new initial TSP tour. We propose to make the search more efficient though an adaptive surrogate model (based on a customised form of Support Vector Regression) that learns the characteristics of initial TSP tours that lead to good TTP solutions.


The Lifecycle of a Statistical Model: Model Failure Detection, Identification, and Refitting

arXiv.org Machine Learning

The statistical machine learning community has demonstrated considerable resourcefulness over the years in developing highly expressive tools for estimation, prediction, and inference. The bedrock assumptions underlying these developments are that the data comes from a fixed population and displays little heterogeneity. But reality is significantly more complex: statistical models now routinely fail when released into real-world systems and scientific applications, where such assumptions rarely hold. Consequently, we pursue a different path in this paper vis-a-vis the well-worn trail of developing new methodology for estimation and prediction. In this paper, we develop tools and theory for detecting and identifying regions of the covariate space (subpopulations) where model performance has begun to degrade, and study intervening to fix these failures through refitting. We present empirical results with three real-world data sets -- including a time series involving forecasting the incidence of COVID-19 -- showing that our methodology generates interpretable results, is useful for tracking model performance, and can boost model performance through refitting. We complement these empirical results with theory proving that our methodology is minimax optimal for recovering anomalous subpopulations as well as refitting to improve accuracy in a structured normal means setting.


A Survey of Methods for Automated Algorithm Configuration

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Algorithm configuration (AC) is concerned with the automated search of the most suitable parameter configuration of a parametrized algorithm. There is currently a wide variety of AC problem variants and methods proposed in the literature. Existing reviews do not take into account all derivatives of the AC problem, nor do they offer a complete classification scheme. To this end, we introduce taxonomies to describe the AC problem and features of configuration methods, respectively. We review existing AC literature within the lens of our taxonomies, outline relevant design choices of configuration approaches, contrast methods and problem variants against each other, and describe the state of AC in industry. Finally, our review provides researchers and practitioners with a look at future research directions in the field of AC.