Learning the optimal Tikhonov regularizer for inverse problems

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Giovanni S. Alberti, Ernesto De Vito, Matti Lassas, Luca Ratti, Matteo Santacesaria


In this work, we consider the linear inverse problem $y=Ax+\varepsilon$, where $A\colon X\to Y$ is a known linear operator between the separable Hilbert spaces $X$ and $Y$, $x$ is a random variable in $X$ and $\epsilon$ is a zero-mean random process in $Y$. This setting covers several inverse problems in imaging including denoising, deblurring, and X-ray tomography. Within the classical framework of regularization, we focus on the case where the regularization functional is not given a priori, but learned from data. Our first result is a characterization of the optimal generalized Tikhonov regularizer, with respect to the mean squared error. We find that it is completely independent of the forward operator $A$ and depends only on the mean and covariance of $x$.Then, we consider the problem of learning the regularizer from a finite training set in two different frameworks: one supervised, based on samples of both $x$ and $y$, and one unsupervised, based only on samples of $x$. In both cases, we prove generalization bounds, under some weak assumptions on the distribution of $x$ and $\varepsilon$, including the case of sub-Gaussian variables. Our bounds hold in infinite-dimensional spaces, thereby showing that finer and finer discretizations do not make this learning problem harder. The results are validated through numerical simulations.