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Robust Learning under Strong Noise via SQs

Ioannis Anagnostides · Themis Gouleakis · Ali Marashian

Keywords: [ Learning Theory and Statistics ] [ Robust Statistics and Machine Learning ]

Abstract: This work provides several new insights on the robustness of Kearns' statistical query framework against challenging label-noise models. First, we build on a recent result by \cite{DBLP:journals/corr/abs-2006-04787} that showed noise tolerance of distribution-independently evolvable concept classes under Massart noise. Specifically, we extend their characterization to more general noise models, including the Tsybakov model which considerably generalizes the Massart condition by allowing the flipping probability to be arbitrarily close to $\frac{1}{2}$ for a subset of the domain. As a corollary, we employ an evolutionary algorithm by \cite{DBLP:conf/colt/KanadeVV10} to obtain the first polynomial time algorithm with arbitrarily small excess error for learning linear threshold functions over any spherically symmetric distribution in the presence of spherically symmetric Tsybakov noise. Moreover, we posit access to a stronger oracle, in which for every labeled example we additionally obtain its flipping probability. In this model, we show that every SQ learnable class admits an efficient learning algorithm with $\opt + \epsilon$ misclassification error for a broad class of noise models. This setting substantially generalizes the widely-studied problem of classification under RCN with known noise rate, and corresponds to a non-convex optimization problem even when the noise function -- i.e. the flipping probabilities of all points -- is known in advance.

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