Efficient Learning of Generalized Linear and Single Index Models with Isotonic Regression

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Sham M. Kakade, Varun Kanade, Ohad Shamir, Adam Kalai


Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) and Single Index Models (SIMs) provide powerful generalizations of linear regression, where the target variable is assumed to be a (possibly unknown) 1-dimensional function of a linear predictor. In general, these problems entail non-convex estimation procedures, and, in practice, iterative local search heuristics are often used. Kalai and Sastry (2009) provided the first provably efficient method, the \emph{Isotron} algorithm, for learning SIMs and GLMs, under the assumption that the data is in fact generated under a GLM and under certain monotonicity and Lipschitz (bounded slope) constraints. The Isotron algorithm interleaves steps of perceptron-like updates with isotonic regression (fitting a one-dimensional non-decreasing function). However, to obtain provable performance, the method requires a fresh sample every iteration. In this paper, we provide algorithms for learning GLMs and SIMs, which are both computationally and statistically efficient. We modify the isotonic regression step in Isotron to fit a Lipschitz monotonic function, and also provide an efficient $O(n \log(n))$ algorithm for this step, improving upon the previous $O(n^2)$ algorithm. We provide a brief empirical study, demonstrating the feasibility of our algorithms in practice.