Creating large-scale high-quality labeled datasets is a major bottleneck in supervised machine learning workflows. Auto-labeling systems are a promising way to reduce reliance on manual labeling for dataset construction. Threshold-based auto-labeling, where validation data obtained from humans is used to find a threshold for confidence above which the data is machine-labeled, is emerging as a popular solution used widely in practice. Given the long shelf-life and diverse usage of the resulting datasets, understanding when the data obtained by such auto-labeling systems can be relied on is crucial. In this work, we analyze threshold-based auto-labeling systems and derive sample complexity bounds on the amount of human-labeled validation data required for guaranteeing the quality of machine-labeled data. Our results provide two insights. First, reasonable chunks of the unlabeled data can be automatically and accurately labeled by seemingly bad models. Second, a hidden downside of threshold-based auto-labeling systems is potentially prohibitive validation data usage. Together, these insights describe the promise and pitfalls of using such systems. We validate our theoretical guarantees with simulations and study the efficacy of threshold-based auto-labeling on real datasets.
Computation of confidence sets is central to data science and machine learning, serving as the workhorse of A/B testing and underpinning the operation and analysis of reinforcement learning algorithms. This paper studies the geometry of the minimum-volume confidence sets for the multinomial parameter. When used in place of more standard confidence sets and intervals based on bounds and asymptotic approximation, learning algorithms can exhibit improved sample complexity. Prior work showed the minimum-volume confidence sets are the level-sets of a discontinuous function defined by an exact p-value. While the confidence sets are optimal in that they have minimum average volume, computation of membership of a single point in the set is challenging for problems of modest size. Since the confidence sets are level-sets of discontinuous functions, little is apparent about their geometry. This paper studies the geometry of the minimum volume confidence sets by enumerating and covering the continuous regions of the exact p-value function. This addresses a fundamental question in A/B testing: given two multinomial outcomes, how can one determine if their corresponding minimum volume confidence sets are disjoint? We answer this question in a restricted setting.