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Variational Bayesian Inference for Crowdsourcing Predictions

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Crowdsourcing has emerged as an effective means for performing a number of machine learning tasks such as annotation and labelling of images and other data sets. In most early settings of crowdsourcing, the task involved classification, that is assigning one of a discrete set of labels to each task. Recently, however, more complex tasks have been attempted including asking crowdsource workers to assign continuous labels, or predictions. In essence, this involves the use of crowdsourcing for function estimation. We are motivated by this problem to drive applications such as collaborative prediction, that is, harnessing the wisdom of the crowd to predict quantities more accurately. To do so, we propose a Bayesian approach aimed specifically at alleviating overfitting, a typical impediment to accurate prediction models in practice. In particular, we develop a variational Bayesian technique for two different worker noise models - one that assumes workers' noises are independent and the other that assumes workers' noises have a latent low-rank structure. Our evaluations on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate that these Bayesian approaches perform significantly better than existing non-Bayesian approaches and are thus potentially useful for this class of crowdsourcing problems.


Active Sampling for Pairwise Comparisons via Approximate Message Passing and Information Gain Maximization

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Pairwise comparison data arise in many domains with subjective assessment experiments, for example in image and video quality assessment. In these experiments observers are asked to express a preference between two conditions. However, many pairwise comparison protocols require a large number of comparisons to infer accurate scores, which may be unfeasible when each comparison is time-consuming (e.g. videos) or expensive (e.g. medical imaging). This motivates the use of an active sampling algorithm that chooses only the most informative pairs for comparison. In this paper we propose ASAP, an active sampling algorithm based on approximate message passing and expected information gain maximization. Unlike most existing methods, which rely on partial updates of the posterior distribution, we are able to perform full updates and therefore much improve the accuracy of the inferred scores. The algorithm relies on three techniques for reducing computational cost: inference based on approximate message passing, selective evaluations of the information gain, and selecting pairs in a batch that forms a minimum spanning tree of the inverse of information gain. We demonstrate, with real and synthetic data, that ASAP offers the highest accuracy of inferred scores compared to the existing methods. We also provide an open-source GPU implementation of ASAP for large-scale experiments.


Bayesian Bias Mitigation for Crowdsourcing

Neural Information Processing Systems

Biased labelers are a systemic problem in crowdsourcing, and a comprehensive toolbox for handling their responses is still being developed. A typical crowdsourcing application can be divided into three steps: data collection, data curation, and learning. At present these steps are often treated separately. We present Bayesian Bias Mitigation for Crowdsourcing (BBMC), a Bayesian model to unify all three. Most data curation methods account for the {\it effects} of labeler bias by modeling all labels as coming from a single latent truth.


Attention-Aware Answers of the Crowd

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Crowdsourcing is a relatively economic and efficient solution to collect annotations from the crowd through online platforms. Answers collected from workers with different expertise may be noisy and unreliable, and the quality of annotated data needs to be further maintained. Various solutions have been attempted to obtain high-quality annotations. However, they all assume that workers' label quality is stable over time (always at the same level whenever they conduct the tasks). In practice, workers' attention level changes over time, and the ignorance of which can affect the reliability of the annotations. In this paper, we focus on a novel and realistic crowdsourcing scenario involving attention-aware annotations. We propose a new probabilistic model that takes into account workers' attention to estimate the label quality. Expectation propagation is adopted for efficient Bayesian inference of our model, and a generalized Expectation Maximization algorithm is derived to estimate both the ground truth of all tasks and the label-quality of each individual crowd worker with attention. In addition, the number of tasks best suited for a worker is estimated according to changes in attention. Experiments against related methods on three real-world and one semi-simulated datasets demonstrate that our method quantifies the relationship between workers' attention and label-quality on the given tasks, and improves the aggregated labels.


Streaming Bayesian Inference for Crowdsourced Classification

arXiv.org Machine Learning

A key challenge in crowdsourcing is inferring the ground tru th from noisy and unreliable data. To do so, existing approaches rely on colle cting redundant information from the crowd, and aggregating it with some probabil istic method. However, oftentimes such methods are computationally ineffici ent, are restricted to some specific settings, or lack theoretical guarantees. In t his paper, we revisit the problem of binary classification from crowdsourced data. Sp ecifically we propose Streaming Bayesian Inference for Crowdsourcing (SBIC), a n ew algorithm that does not suffer from any of these limitations. First, SBIC ha s low complexity and can be used in a real-time online setting. Second, SBIC has th e same accuracy as the best state-of-the-art algorithms in all settings. Th ird, SBIC has provable asymptotic guarantees both in the online and offline setting s.


Scalable Variational Gaussian Processes for Crowdsourcing: Glitch Detection in LIGO

arXiv.org Machine Learning

In the last years, crowdsourcing is transforming the way classification training sets are obtained. Instead of relying on a single expert annotator, crowdsourcing shares the labelling effort among a large number of collaborators. For instance, this is being applied to the data acquired by the laureate Laser Interferometer Gravitational Waves Observatory (LIGO), in order to detect glitches which might hinder the identification of true gravitational-waves. The crowdsourcing scenario poses new challenging difficulties, as it deals with different opinions from a heterogeneous group of annotators with unknown degrees of expertise. Probabilistic methods, such as Gaussian Processes (GP), have proven successful in modeling this setting. However, GPs do not scale well to large data sets, which hampers their broad adoption in real practice (in particular at LIGO). This has led to the recent introduction of deep learning based crowdsourcing methods, which have become the state-of-the-art. However, the accurate uncertainty quantification of GPs has been partially sacrificed. This is an important aspect for astrophysicists in LIGO, since a glitch detection system should provide very accurate probability distributions of its predictions. In this work, we leverage the most popular sparse GP approximation to develop a novel GP based crowdsourcing method that factorizes into mini-batches. This makes it able to cope with previously-prohibitive data sets. The approach, which we refer to as Scalable Variational Gaussian Processes for Crowdsourcing (SVGPCR), brings back GP-based methods to the state-of-the-art, and excels at uncertainty quantification. SVGPCR is shown to outperform deep learning based methods and previous probabilistic approaches when applied to the LIGO data. Moreover, its behavior and main properties are carefully analyzed in a controlled experiment based on the MNIST data set.


Truth Inference at Scale: A Bayesian Model for Adjudicating Highly Redundant Crowd Annotations

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Crowd-sourcing is a cheap and popular means of creating training and evaluation datasets for machine learning, however it poses the problem of `truth inference', as individual workers cannot be wholly trusted to provide reliable annotations. Research into models of annotation aggregation attempts to infer a latent `true' annotation, which has been shown to improve the utility of crowd-sourced data. However, existing techniques beat simple baselines only in low redundancy settings, where the number of annotations per instance is low ($\le 3$), or in situations where workers are unreliable and produce low quality annotations (e.g., through spamming, random, or adversarial behaviours.) As we show, datasets produced by crowd-sourcing are often not of this type: the data is highly redundantly annotated ($\ge 5$ annotations per instance), and the vast majority of workers produce high quality outputs. In these settings, the majority vote heuristic performs very well, and most truth inference models underperform this simple baseline. We propose a novel technique, based on a Bayesian graphical model with conjugate priors, and simple iterative expectation-maximisation inference. Our technique produces competitive performance to the state-of-the-art benchmark methods, and is the only method that significantly outperforms the majority vote heuristic at one-sided level 0.025, shown by significance tests. Moreover, our technique is simple, is implemented in only 50 lines of code, and trains in seconds.


A Full Probabilistic Model for Yes/No Type Crowdsourcing in Multi-Class Classification

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Crowdsourcing has become widely used in supervised scenarios where training sets are scarce and difficult to obtain. Most crowdsourcing models in the literature assume labelers can provide answers to full questions. In classification contexts, full questions require a labeler to discern among all possible classes. Unfortunately, discernment is not always easy in realistic scenarios. Labelers may not be experts in differentiating all classes. In this work, we provide a full probabilistic model for a shorter type of queries. Our shorter queries only require "yes" or "no" responses. Our model estimates a joint posterior distribution of matrices related to labelers' confusions and the posterior probability of the class of every object. We developed an approximate inference approach, using Monte Carlo Sampling and Black Box Variational Inference, which provides the derivation of the necessary gradients. We built two realistic crowdsourcing scenarios to test our model. The first scenario queries for irregular astronomical time-series. The second scenario relies on the image classification of animals. We achieved results that are comparable with those of full query crowdsourcing. Furthermore, we show that modeling labelers' failures plays an important role in estimating true classes. Finally, we provide the community with two real datasets obtained from our crowdsourcing experiments. All our code is publicly available.


A Technical Survey on Statistical Modelling and Design Methods for Crowdsourcing Quality Control

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Online crowdsourcing provides a scalable and inexpensive means to collect knowledge (e.g. labels) about various types of data items (e.g. text, audio, video). However, it is also known to result in large variance in the quality of recorded responses which often cannot be directly used for training machine learning systems. To resolve this issue, a lot of work has been conducted to control the response quality such that low-quality responses cannot adversely affect the performance of the machine learning systems. Such work is referred to as the quality control for crowdsourcing. Past quality control research can be divided into two major branches: quality control mechanism design and statistical models. The first branch focuses on designing measures, thresholds, interfaces and workflows for payment, gamification, question assignment and other mechanisms that influence workers' behaviour. The second branch focuses on developing statistical models to perform effective aggregation of responses to infer correct responses. The two branches are connected as statistical models (i) provide parameter estimates to support the measure and threshold calculation, and (ii) encode modelling assumptions used to derive (theoretical) performance guarantees for the mechanisms. There are surveys regarding each branch but they lack technical details about the other branch. Our survey is the first to bridge the two branches by providing technical details on how they work together under frameworks that systematically unify crowdsourcing aspects modelled by both of them to determine the response quality. We are also the first to provide taxonomies of quality control papers based on the proposed frameworks. Finally, we specify the current limitations and the corresponding future directions for the quality control research.


Deep Bayesian Trust : A Dominant Strategy and Fair Reward Mechanism for Crowdsourcing

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

A common mechanism to assess trust in crowdworkers is to have them answer gold tasks. However, assigning gold tasks to all workers reduces the efficiency of the platform. We propose a mechanism that exploits transitivity so that a worker can be certified as trusted by other trusted workers who solve common tasks. Thus, trust can be derived from a smaller number of gold tasks assignment through multiple layers of peer relationship among the workers, a model we call deep trust. We use the derived trust to incentivize workers for high quality work and show that the resulting mechanism is dominant strategy incentive compatible. We also show that the mechanism satisfies a notion of fairness in that the trust assessment (and thus the reward) of a worker in the limit is independent of the quality of other workers.