PUe: Biased Positive-Unlabeled Learning Enhancement by Causal Inference

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Xutao Wang, Hanting Chen, Tianyu Guo, Yunhe Wang


Positive-Unlabeled (PU) learning aims to achieve high-accuracy binary classification with limited labeled positive examples and numerous unlabeled ones. Existing cost-sensitive-based methods often rely on strong assumptions that examples with an observed positive label were selected entirely at random. In fact, the uneven distribution of labels is prevalent in real-world PU problems, indicating that most actual positive and unlabeled data are subject to selection bias. In this paper, we propose a PU learning enhancement (PUe) algorithm based on causal inference theory, which employs normalized propensity scores and normalized inverse probability weighting (NIPW) techniques to reconstruct the loss function, thus obtaining a consistent, unbiased estimate of the classifier and enhancing the model's performance. Moreover, we investigate and propose a method for estimating propensity scores in deep learning using regularization techniques when the labeling mechanism is unknown. Our experiments on three benchmark datasets demonstrate the proposed PUe algorithm significantly improves the accuracy of classifiers on non-uniform label distribution datasets compared to advanced cost-sensitive PU methods. Codes are available at https://github.com/huawei-noah/Noah-research/tree/master/PUe and https://gitee.com/mindspore/models/tree/master/research/cv/PUe.