Oral Session 4: Theory

Moderator: Robert Williamson

Fri 10 Dec midnight PST — 1 a.m. PST


Chat is not available.

Fri 10 Dec. 0:00 - 0:15 PST

Risk Monotonicity in Statistical Learning

Zakaria Mhammedi

Acquisition of data is a difficult task in many applications of machine learning, and it is only natural that one hopes and expects the population risk to decrease (better performance) monotonically with increasing data points. It turns out, somewhat surprisingly, that this is not the case even for the most standard algorithms that minimize the empirical risk. Non-monotonic behavior of the risk and instability in training have manifested and appeared in the popular deep learning paradigm under the description of double descent. These problems highlight the current lack of understanding of learning algorithms and generalization. It is, therefore, crucial to pursue this concern and provide a characterization of such behavior. In this paper, we derive the first consistent and risk-monotonic (in high probability) algorithms for a general statistical learning setting under weak assumptions, consequently answering some questions posed by Viering et. al. 2019 on how to avoid non-monotonic behavior of risk curves. We further show that risk monotonicity need not necessarily come at the price of worse excess risk rates. To achieve this, we derive new empirical Bernstein-like concentration inequalities of independent interest that hold for certain non-i.i.d.~processes such as Martingale Difference Sequences.

Fri 10 Dec. 0:15 - 0:20 PST


Fri 10 Dec. 0:20 - 0:35 PST

Uniform Convergence of Interpolators: Gaussian Width, Norm Bounds and Benign Overfitting

Frederic Koehler · Lijia Zhou · Danica J. Sutherland · Nathan Srebro

We consider interpolation learning in high-dimensional linear regression with Gaussian data, and prove a generic uniform convergence guarantee on the generalization error of interpolators in an arbitrary hypothesis class in terms of the class’s Gaussian width. Applying the generic bound to Euclidean norm balls recovers the consistency result of Bartlett et al. (2020) for minimum-norm interpolators, and confirms a prediction of Zhou et al. (2020) for near-minimal-norm interpolators in the special case of Gaussian data. We demonstrate the generality of the bound by applying it to the simplex, obtaining a novel consistency result for minimum $\ell_1$-norm interpolators (basis pursuit). Our results show how norm-based generalization bounds can explain and be used to analyze benign overfitting, at least in some settings.

Fri 10 Dec. 0:35 - 0:40 PST


Fri 10 Dec. 0:40 - 0:55 PST

The decomposition of the higher-order homology embedding constructed from the $k$-Laplacian

Yu-Chia Chen · Marina Meila

The null space of the $k$-th order Laplacian $\mathbf{\mathcal L}_k$, known as the {\em $k$-th homology vector space}, encodes the non-trivial topology of a manifold or a network. Understanding the structure of the homology embedding can thus disclose geometric or topological information from the data. The study of the null space embedding of the graph Laplacian $\mathbf{\mathcal L}_0$ has spurred new research and applications, such as spectral clustering algorithms with theoretical guarantees and estimators of the Stochastic Block Model. In this work, we investigate the geometry of the $k$-th homology embedding and focus on cases reminiscent of spectral clustering. Namely, we analyze the {\em connected sum} of manifolds as a perturbation to the direct sum of their homology embeddings. We propose an algorithm to factorize the homology embedding into subspaces corresponding to a manifold's simplest topological components. The proposed framework is applied to the {\em shortest homologous loop detection} problem, a problem known to be NP-hard in general. Our spectral loop detection algorithm scales better than existing methods and is effective on diverse data such as point clouds and images.

Fri 10 Dec. 0:55 - 1:00 PST