Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

*Nicholas Rittler, Kamalika Chaudhuri*

Inspired by the problem of improving classification accuracy on rare or hard subsets of a population, there has been recent interest in models of learning where the goal is to generalize to a collection of distributions, each representing a ``group''. We consider a variant of this problem from the perspective of active learning, where the learner is endowed with the power to decide which examples are labeled from each distribution in the collection, and the goal is to minimize the number of label queries while maintaining PAC-learning guarantees. Our main challenge is that standard active learning techniques such as disagreement-based active learning do not directly apply to the multi-group learning objective. We modify existing algorithms to provide a consistent active learning algorithm for an agnostic formulation of multi-group learning, which given a collection of $G$ distributions and a hypothesis class $\mathcal{H}$ with VC-dimension $d$, outputs an $\epsilon$-optimal hypothesis using $\tilde{O}\left( (\nu^2/\epsilon^2) G d \theta_{\mathcal{G}}^2 \log^2(1/\epsilon) + G\log(1/\epsilon)/\epsilon^2 \right)$ label queries, where $\theta_{\mathcal{G}}$ is the worst-case disagreement coefficient over the collection. Roughly speaking, this guarantee improves upon the label complexity of standard multi-group learning in regimes where disagreement-based active learning algorithms may be expected to succeed, and the number of groups is not too large. We also consider the special case where each distribution in the collection is individually realizable with respect to $\mathcal{H}$, and demonstrate $\tilde{O}\left( G d \theta_{\mathcal{G}} \log(1/\epsilon) \right)$ label queries are sufficient for learning in this case. We further give an approximation result for the full agnostic case inspired by the group realizable strategy.

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