Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

*Nived Rajaraman, Fnu Devvrit, Pranjal Awasthi*

Labeled data often comes at a high cost as it may require recruiting human labelers or running costly experiments. At the same time, in many practical scenarios, one already has access to a partially labeled, potentially biased dataset that can help with the learning task at hand. Motivated by such settings, we formally initiate a study of ``semi-supervised active learning'' through the frame of linear regression. Here, the learner has access to a dataset $X \in \mathbb{R}^{(n_{\text{un}}+n_{\text{lab}}) \times d}$ composed of $n_{\text{un}}$ unlabeled examples that a learner can actively query, and $n_{\text{lab}}$ examples labeled a priori. Denoting the true labels by $Y \in \mathbb{R}^{n_{\text{un}} + n_{\text{lab}}}$, the learner's objective is to find $\widehat{\beta} \in \mathbb{R}^d$ such that,$$\| X \widehat{\beta} - Y \|_2^2 \le (1 + \epsilon) \min_{\beta \in \mathbb{R}^d} \| X \beta - Y \|_2^2$$while querying the labels of as few unlabeled points as possible. In this paper, we introduce an instance dependent parameter called the reduced rank, denoted $\text{R}_X$, and propose an efficient algorithm with query complexity $O(\text{R}_X/\epsilon)$. This result directly implies improved upper bounds for two important special cases: $(i)$ active ridge regression, and $(ii)$ active kernel ridge regression, where the reduced-rank equates to the ``statistical dimension'', $\textsf{sd}_\lambda$ and ``effective dimension'', $d_\lambda$ of the problem respectively, where $\lambda \ge 0$ denotes the regularization parameter. Finally, we introduce a distributional version of the problem as a special case of the agnostic formulation we consider earlier; here, for every $X$, we prove a matching instance-wise lower bound of $\Omega (\text{R}_X / \epsilon)$ on the query complexity of any algorithm.

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