Distributionally Robust Structure Learning for Discrete Pairwise Markov Networks

Yeshu Li · Zhan Shi · Xinhua Zhang · Brian Ziebart

[ Abstract ]
Tue 29 Mar 1 a.m. PDT — 2:30 a.m. PDT


We consider the problem of learning the underlying structure of a general discrete pairwise Markov network. Existing approaches that rely on empirical risk minimization may perform poorly in settings with noisy or scarce data. To overcome these limitations, we propose a computationally efficient and robust learning method for this problem with near-optimal sample complexities. Our approach builds upon distributionally robust optimization (DRO) and maximum conditional log-likelihood. The proposed DRO estimator minimizes the worst-case risk over an ambiguity set of adversarial distributions within bounded transport cost or f-divergence of the empirical data distribution. We show that the primal minimax learning problem can be efficiently solved by leveraging sufficient statistics and greedy maximization in the ostensibly intractable dual formulation. Based on DRO's approximation to Lipschitz and variance regularization, we derive near-optimal sample complexities matching existing results. Extensive empirical evidence with different corruption models corroborates the effectiveness of the proposed methods.

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