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On the Relation between Distributionally Robust Optimization and Data Curation
Agnieszka Słowik · Leon Bottou

Machine learning systems based on minimizing average error have been shown to perform inconsistently across notable subsets of the data, which is not exposed by a low average error for the entire dataset. In consequential social and economic applications, where data represent people, this can lead to discrimination of underrepresented gender and ethnic groups. Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO) seemingly addresses this problem by minimizing the worst expected risk across subpopulations. We establish theoretical results that clarify the relation between DRO and the optimization of the same loss averaged on an adequately weighted training dataset. A practical implication of our results is that neither DRO nor curating the training set should be construed as a complete solution for bias mitigation.

Author Information

Agnieszka Słowik (Department of Computer Science and Technology University of Cambridge)
Leon Bottou (Facebook AI Research)

Léon Bottou received a Diplôme from l'Ecole Polytechnique, Paris in 1987, a Magistère en Mathématiques Fondamentales et Appliquées et Informatiques from Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris in 1988, and a PhD in Computer Science from Université de Paris-Sud in 1991. He joined AT&T Bell Labs from 1991 to 1992 and AT&T Labs from 1995 to 2002. Between 1992 and 1995 he was chairman of Neuristique in Paris, a small company pioneering machine learning for data mining applications. He has been with NEC Labs America in Princeton since 2002. Léon's primary research interest is machine learning. His contributions to this field address theory, algorithms and large scale applications. Léon's secondary research interest is data compression and coding. His best known contribution in this field is the DjVu document compression technology (http://www.djvu.org.) Léon published over 70 papers and is serving on the boards of JMLR and IEEE TPAMI. He also serves on the scientific advisory board of Kxen Inc .

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