Convergence Rates of Active Learning for Maximum Likelihood Estimation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Kamalika Chaudhuri, Sham M. Kakade, Praneeth Netrapalli, Sujay Sanghavi


An active learner is given a class of models, a large set of unlabeled examples, and the ability to interactively query labels of a subset of these examples; the goal of the learner is to learn a model in the class that fits the data well. Previous theoretical work has rigorously characterized label complexity of active learning, but most of this work has focused on the PAC or the agnostic PAC model. In this paper, we shift our attention to a more general setting -- maximum likelihood estimation. Provided certain conditions hold on the model class, we provide a two-stage active learning algorithm for this problem. The conditions we require are fairly general, and cover the widely popular class of Generalized Linear Models, which in turn, include models for binary and multi-class classification, regression, and conditional random fields. We provide an upper bound on the label requirement of our algorithm, and a lower bound that matches it up to lower order terms. Our analysis shows that unlike binary classification in the realizable case, just a single extraround of interaction is sufficient to achieve near-optimal performance in maximum likelihood estimation. On the empirical side, the recent work in (Gu et al. 2012) and (Gu et al. 2014) (on active linear and logistic regression) shows the promise of this approach.