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Abstract:We give the first result for agnostically learning Single-Index Models (SIMs) with arbitrary monotone and Lipschitz activations. All prior work either held only in the realizable setting or required the activation to be known. Moreover, we only require the marginal to have bounded second moments, whereas all prior work required stronger distributional assumptions (such as anticoncentration or boundedness). Our algorithm is based on recent work by [GHK$^+$23] on omniprediction using predictors satisfying calibrated multiaccuracy. Our analysis is simple and relies on the relationship between Bregman divergences (or matching losses) and $\ell_p$ distances. We also provide new guarantees for standard algorithms like GLMtron and logistic regression in the agnostic setting.

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Authors:Giannis Daras, Kulin Shah, Yuval Dagan, Aravind Gollakota, Alexandros G. Dimakis, Adam Klivans

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Abstract:We present the first diffusion-based framework that can learn an unknown distribution using only highly-corrupted samples. This problem arises in scientific applications where access to uncorrupted samples is impossible or expensive to acquire. Another benefit of our approach is the ability to train generative models that are less likely to memorize individual training samples since they never observe clean training data. Our main idea is to introduce additional measurement distortion during the diffusion process and require the model to predict the original corrupted image from the further corrupted image. We prove that our method leads to models that learn the conditional expectation of the full uncorrupted image given this additional measurement corruption. This holds for any corruption process that satisfies some technical conditions (and in particular includes inpainting and compressed sensing). We train models on standard benchmarks (CelebA, CIFAR-10 and AFHQ) and show that we can learn the distribution even when all the training samples have $90\%$ of their pixels missing. We also show that we can finetune foundation models on small corrupted datasets (e.g. MRI scans with block corruptions) and learn the clean distribution without memorizing the training set.

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Abstract:We give the first tester-learner for halfspaces that succeeds universally over a wide class of structured distributions. Our universal tester-learner runs in fully polynomial time and has the following guarantee: the learner achieves error $O(\mathrm{opt}) + \epsilon$ on any labeled distribution that the tester accepts, and moreover, the tester accepts whenever the marginal is any distribution that satisfies a Poincar\'e inequality. In contrast to prior work on testable learning, our tester is not tailored to any single target distribution but rather succeeds for an entire target class of distributions. The class of Poincar\'e distributions includes all strongly log-concave distributions, and, assuming the Kannan--L\'{o}vasz--Simonovits (KLS) conjecture, includes all log-concave distributions. In the special case where the label noise is known to be Massart, our tester-learner achieves error $\mathrm{opt} + \epsilon$ while accepting all log-concave distributions unconditionally (without assuming KLS). Our tests rely on checking hypercontractivity of the unknown distribution using a sum-of-squares (SOS) program, and crucially make use of the fact that Poincar\'e distributions are certifiably hypercontractive in the SOS framework.

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Abstract:We give the first efficient algorithm for learning halfspaces in the testable learning model recently defined by Rubinfeld and Vasilyan (2023). In this model, a learner certifies that the accuracy of its output hypothesis is near optimal whenever the training set passes an associated test, and training sets drawn from some target distribution -- e.g., the Gaussian -- must pass the test. This model is more challenging than distribution-specific agnostic or Massart noise models where the learner is allowed to fail arbitrarily if the distributional assumption does not hold. We consider the setting where the target distribution is Gaussian (or more generally any strongly log-concave distribution) in $d$ dimensions and the noise model is either Massart or adversarial (agnostic). For Massart noise, our tester-learner runs in polynomial time and outputs a hypothesis with (information-theoretically optimal) error $\mathsf{opt} + \epsilon$ for any strongly log-concave target distribution. For adversarial noise, our tester-learner obtains error $O(\mathsf{opt}) + \epsilon$ in polynomial time when the target distribution is Gaussian; for strongly log-concave distributions, we obtain $\tilde{O}(\mathsf{opt}) + \epsilon$ in quasipolynomial time. Prior work on testable learning ignores the labels in the training set and checks that the empirical moments of the covariates are close to the moments of the base distribution. Here we develop new tests of independent interest that make critical use of the labels and combine them with the moment-matching approach of Gollakota et al. (2023). This enables us to simulate a variant of the algorithm of Diakonikolas et al. (2020) for learning noisy halfspaces using nonconvex SGD but in the testable learning setting.

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Abstract:A remarkable recent paper by Rubinfeld and Vasilyan (2022) initiated the study of \emph{testable learning}, where the goal is to replace hard-to-verify distributional assumptions (such as Gaussianity) with efficiently testable ones and to require that the learner succeed whenever the unknown distribution passes the corresponding test. In this model, they gave an efficient algorithm for learning halfspaces under testable assumptions that are provably satisfied by Gaussians. In this paper we give a powerful new approach for developing algorithms for testable learning using tools from moment matching and metric distances in probability. We obtain efficient testable learners for any concept class that admits low-degree \emph{sandwiching polynomials}, capturing most important examples for which we have ordinary agnostic learners. We recover the results of Rubinfeld and Vasilyan as a corollary of our techniques while achieving improved, near-optimal sample complexity bounds for a broad range of concept classes and distributions. Surprisingly, we show that the information-theoretic sample complexity of testable learning is tightly characterized by the Rademacher complexity of the concept class, one of the most well-studied measures in statistical learning theory. In particular, uniform convergence is necessary and sufficient for testable learning. This leads to a fundamental separation from (ordinary) distribution-specific agnostic learning, where uniform convergence is sufficient but not necessary.

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Abstract:We give exponential statistical query (SQ) lower bounds for learning two-hidden-layer ReLU networks with respect to Gaussian inputs in the standard (noise-free) model. No general SQ lower bounds were known for learning ReLU networks of any depth in this setting: previous SQ lower bounds held only for adversarial noise models (agnostic learning) or restricted models such as correlational SQ. Prior work hinted at the impossibility of our result: Vempala and Wilmes showed that general SQ lower bounds cannot apply to any real-valued family of functions that satisfies a simple non-degeneracy condition. To circumvent their result, we refine a lifting procedure due to Daniely and Vardi that reduces Boolean PAC learning problems to Gaussian ones. We show how to extend their technique to other learning models and, in many well-studied cases, obtain a more efficient reduction. As such, we also prove new cryptographic hardness results for PAC learning two-hidden-layer ReLU networks, as well as new lower bounds for learning constant-depth ReLU networks from membership queries.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of learning stabilizer states with noise in the Probably Approximately Correct (PAC) framework of Aaronson (2007) for learning quantum states. In the noiseless setting, an algorithm for this problem was recently given by Rocchetto (2018), but the noisy case was left open. Motivated by approaches to noise tolerance from classical learning theory, we introduce the Statistical Query (SQ) model for PAC-learning quantum states, and prove that algorithms in this model are indeed resilient to common forms of noise, including classification and depolarizing noise. We prove an exponential lower bound on learning stabilizer states in the SQ model. Even outside the SQ model, we prove that learning stabilizer states with noise is in general as hard as Learning Parity with Noise (LPN) using classical examples. Our results position the problem of learning stabilizer states as a natural quantum analogue of the classical problem of learning parities: easy in the noiseless setting, but seemingly intractable even with simple forms of noise.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of distribution-free learning for Boolean function classes in the PAC and agnostic models. Generalizing a recent beautiful work of Malach and Shalev-Shwartz (2020) who gave the first tight correlational SQ (CSQ) lower bounds for learning DNF formulas, we show that lower bounds on the threshold or approximate degree of any function class directly imply CSQ lower bounds for PAC or agnostic learning respectively. These match corresponding positive results using upper bounds on the threshold or approximate degree in the SQ model for PAC or agnostic learning. Many of these results were implicit in earlier works of Feldman and Sherstov.

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Abstract:We give the first statistical-query lower bounds for agnostically learning any non-polynomial activation with respect to Gaussian marginals (e.g., ReLU, sigmoid, sign). For the specific problem of ReLU regression (equivalently, agnostically learning a ReLU), we show that any statistical-query algorithm with tolerance $n^{-\Theta(\epsilon^{-1/2})}$ must use at least $2^{n^c} \epsilon$ queries for some constant $c > 0$, where $n$ is the dimension and $\epsilon$ is the accuracy parameter. Our results rule out general (as opposed to correlational) SQ learning algorithms, which is unusual for real-valued learning problems. Our techniques involve a gradient boosting procedure for "amplifying" recent lower bounds due to Diakonikolas et al. (COLT 2020) and Goel et al. (ICML 2020) on the SQ dimension of functions computed by two-layer neural networks. The crucial new ingredient is the use of a nonstandard convex functional during the boosting procedure. This also yields a best-possible reduction between two commonly studied models of learning: agnostic learning and probabilistic concepts.

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Abstract:We prove the first superpolynomial lower bounds for learning one-layer neural networks with respect to the Gaussian distribution using gradient descent. We show that any classifier trained using gradient descent with respect to square-loss will fail to achieve small test error in polynomial time given access to samples labeled by a one-layer neural network. For classification, we give a stronger result, namely that any statistical query (SQ) algorithm (including gradient descent) will fail to achieve small test error in polynomial time. Prior work held only for gradient descent run with small batch sizes, required sharp activations, and applied to specific classes of queries. Our lower bounds hold for broad classes of activations including ReLU and sigmoid. The core of our result relies on a novel construction of a simple family of neural networks that are exactly orthogonal with respect to all spherically symmetric distributions.

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