Multiple-Instance Active Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 20 (NIPS 2007)

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Burr Settles, Mark Craven, Soumya Ray


In a multiple instance (MI) learning problem, instances are naturally organized into bags and it is the bags, instead of individual instances, that are labeled for training. MI learners assume that every instance in a bag labeled negative is actually negative, whereas at least one instance in a bag labeled positive is actually positive. We present a framework for active learning in the multiple-instance setting. In particular, we consider the case in which an MI learner is allowed to selectively query unlabeled instances in positive bags. This approach is well motivated in domains in which it is inexpensive to acquire bag labels and possible, but expensive, to acquire instance labels. We describe a method for learning from labels at mixed levels of granularity, and introduce two active query selection strategies motivated by the MI setting. Our experiments show that learning from instance labels can significantly improve performance of a basic MI learning algorithm in two multiple-instance domains: content-based image recognition and text classification.