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Jeff M. Phillips, Hasan Pourmahmood-Aghababa

We introduce the notion of an $\varepsilon$-cover for a kernel range space. A kernel range space concerns a set of points $X \subset \mathbb{R}^d$ and the space of all queries by a fixed kernel (e.g., a Gaussian kernel $K(p,\cdot) = \exp(-\|p-\cdot\|^2)$). For a point set $X$ of size $n$, a query returns a vector of values $R_p \in \mathbb{R}^n$, where the $i$th coordinate $(R_p)_i = K(p,x_i)$ for $x_i \in X$. An $\varepsilon$-cover is a subset of points $Q \subset \mathbb{R}^d$ so for any $p \in \mathbb{R}^d$ that $\frac{1}{n} \|R_p - R_q\|_1\leq \varepsilon$ for some $q \in Q$. This is a smooth analog of Haussler's notion of $\varepsilon$-covers for combinatorial range spaces (e.g., defined by subsets of points within a ball query) where the resulting vectors $R_p$ are in $\{0,1\}^n$ instead of $[0,1]^n$. The kernel versions of these range spaces show up in data analysis tasks where the coordinates may be uncertain or imprecise, and hence one wishes to add some flexibility in the notion of inside and outside of a query range. Our main result is that, unlike combinatorial range spaces, the size of kernel $\varepsilon$-covers is independent of the input size $n$ and dimension $d$. We obtain a bound of $(1/\varepsilon)^{\tilde O(1/\varepsilon^2)}$, where $\tilde{O}(f(1/\varepsilon))$ hides log factors in $(1/\varepsilon)$ that can depend on the kernel. This implies that by relaxing the notion of boundaries in range queries, eventually the curse of dimensionality disappears, and may help explain the success of machine learning in very high-dimensions. We also complement this result with a lower bound of almost $(1/\varepsilon)^{\Omega(1/\varepsilon)}$, showing the exponential dependence on $1/\varepsilon$ is necessary.

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Meysam Alishahi, Anna Little, Jeff M. Phillips

In linear distance metric learning, we are given data in one Euclidean metric space and the goal is to find an appropriate linear map to another Euclidean metric space which respects certain distance conditions as much as possible. In this paper, we formalize a simple and elegant method which reduces to a general continuous convex loss optimization problem, and for different noise models we derive the corresponding loss functions. We show that even if the data is noisy, the ground truth linear metric can be learned with any precision provided access to enough samples, and we provide a corresponding sample complexity bound. Moreover, we present an effective way to truncate the learned model to a low-rank model that can provably maintain the accuracy in loss function and in parameters -- the first such results of this type. Several experimental observations on synthetic and real data sets support and inform our theoretical results.

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Meysam Alishahi, Anna Little, Jeff M. Phillips

In linear distance metric learning, we are given data in one Euclidean metric space and the goal is to find an appropriate linear map to another Euclidean metric space which respects certain distance conditions as much as possible. In this paper, we formalize a simple and elegant method which reduces to a general continuous convex loss optimization problem, and for different noise models we derive the corresponding loss functions. We show that even if the data is noisy, the ground truth linear metric can be learned with any precision provided access to enough samples, and we provide a corresponding sample complexity bound. Moreover, we present an effective way to truncate the learned model to a low-rank model that can provably maintain the accuracy in loss function and in parameters -- the first such results of this type. Several experimental observations on synthetic and real data sets support and inform our theoretical results.

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Tao Yang, Cuize Han, Chen Luo, Parth Gupta, Jeff M. Phillips, Qingyao Ai

Ranking is at the core of many artificial intelligence (AI) applications, including search engines, recommender systems, etc. Modern ranking systems are often constructed with learning-to-rank (LTR) models built from user behavior signals. While previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of using user behavior signals (e.g., clicks) as both features and labels of LTR algorithms, we argue that existing LTR algorithms that indiscriminately treat behavior and non-behavior signals in input features could lead to suboptimal performance in practice. Particularly because user behavior signals often have strong correlations with the ranking objective and can only be collected on items that have already been shown to users, directly using behavior signals in LTR could create an exploitation bias that hurts the system performance in the long run. To address the exploitation bias, we propose EBRank, an empirical Bayes-based uncertainty-aware ranking algorithm. Specifically, to overcome exploitation bias brought by behavior features in ranking models, EBRank uses a sole non-behavior feature based prior model to get a prior estimation of relevance. In the dynamic training and serving of ranking systems, EBRank uses the observed user behaviors to update posterior relevance estimation instead of concatenating behaviors as features in ranking models. Besides, EBRank additionally applies an uncertainty-aware exploration strategy to explore actively, collect user behaviors for empirical Bayesian modeling and improve ranking performance. Experiments on three public datasets show that EBRank is effective, practical and significantly outperforms state-of-the-art ranking algorithms.

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Shibo Li, Jeff M. Phillips, Xin Yu, Robert M. Kirby, Shandian Zhe

Learning functions with high-dimensional outputs is critical in many applications, such as physical simulation and engineering design. However, collecting training examples for these applications is often costly, e.g. by running numerical solvers. The recent work (Li et al., 2022) proposes the first multi-fidelity active learning approach for high-dimensional outputs, which can acquire examples at different fidelities to reduce the cost while improving the learning performance. However, this method only queries at one pair of fidelity and input at a time, and hence has a risk to bring in strongly correlated examples to reduce the learning efficiency. In this paper, we propose Batch Multi-Fidelity Active Learning with Budget Constraints (BMFAL-BC), which can promote the diversity of training examples to improve the benefit-cost ratio, while respecting a given budget constraint for batch queries. Hence, our method can be more practically useful. Specifically, we propose a novel batch acquisition function that measures the mutual information between a batch of multi-fidelity queries and the target function, so as to penalize highly correlated queries and encourages diversity. The optimization of the batch acquisition function is challenging in that it involves a combinatorial search over many fidelities while subject to the budget constraint. To address this challenge, we develop a weighted greedy algorithm that can sequentially identify each (fidelity, input) pair, while achieving a near $(1 - 1/e)$-approximation of the optimum. We show the advantage of our method in several computational physics and engineering applications.

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Hasan Pourmahmood-Aghababa, Jeff M. Phillips

We provide the first comprehensive study on how to classify trajectories using only their spatial representations, measured on 5 real-world data sets. Our comparison considers 20 distinct classifiers arising either as a KNN classifier of a popular distance, or as a more general type of classifier using a vectorized representation of each trajectory. We additionally develop new methods for how to vectorize trajectories via a data-driven method to select the associated landmarks, and these methods prove among the most effective in our study. These vectorized approaches are simple and efficient to use, and also provide state-of-the-art accuracy on an established transportation mode classification task. In all, this study sets the standard for how to classify trajectories, including introducing new simple techniques to achieve these results, and sets a rigorous standard for the inevitable future study on this topic.

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Jiahui Chen, Joe Breen, Jeff M. Phillips, Jacobus Van der Merwe

Network traffic classification that is widely applicable and highly accurate is valuable for many network security and management tasks. A flexible and easily configurable classification framework is ideal, as it can be customized for use in a wide variety of networks. In this paper, we propose a highly configurable and flexible machine learning traffic classification method that relies only on statistics of sequences of packets to distinguish known, or approved, traffic from unknown traffic. Our method is based on likelihood estimation, provides a measure of certainty for classification decisions, and can classify traffic at adjustable certainty levels. Our classification method can also be applied in different classification scenarios, each prioritizing a different classification goal. We demonstrate how our classification scheme and all its configurations perform well on real-world traffic from a high performance computing network environment.

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Michael Matheny, Jeff M. Phillips

Consider the geometric range space $(X, \mathcal{H}_d)$ where $X \subset \mathbb{R}^d$ and $\mathcal{H}_d$ is the set of ranges defined by $d$-dimensional halfspaces. In this setting we consider that $X$ is the disjoint union of a red and blue set. For each halfspace $h \in \mathcal{H}_d$ define a function $\Phi(h)$ that measures the "difference" between the fraction of red and fraction of blue points which fall in the range $h$. In this context the maximum discrepancy problem is to find the $h^* = \arg \max_{h \in (X, \mathcal{H}_d)} \Phi(h)$. We aim to instead find an $\hat{h}$ such that $\Phi(h^*) - \Phi(\hat{h}) \le \varepsilon$. This is the central problem in linear classification for machine learning, in spatial scan statistics for spatial anomaly detection, and shows up in many other areas. We provide a solution for this problem in $O(|X| + (1/\varepsilon^d) \log^4 (1/\varepsilon))$ time, which improves polynomially over the previous best solutions. For $d=2$ we show that this is nearly tight through conditional lower bounds. For different classes of $\Phi$ we can either provide a $\Omega(|X|^{3/2 - o(1)})$ time lower bound for the exact solution with a reduction to APSP, or an $\Omega(|X| + 1/\varepsilon^{2-o(1)})$ lower bound for the approximate solution with a reduction to 3SUM. A key technical result is a $\varepsilon$-approximate halfspace range counting data structure of size $O(1/\varepsilon^d)$ with $O(\log (1/\varepsilon))$ query time, which we can build in $O(|X| + (1/\varepsilon^d) \log^4 (1/\varepsilon))$ time.

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Archit Rathore, Sunipa Dev, Jeff M. Phillips, Vivek Srikumar, Yan Zheng, Chin-Chia Michael Yeh, Junpeng Wang, Wei Zhang, Bei Wang

Word vector embeddings have been shown to contain and amplify biases in data they are extracted from. Consequently, many techniques have been proposed to identify, mitigate, and attenuate these biases in word representations. In this paper, we utilize interactive visualization to increase the interpretability and accessibility of a collection of state-of-the-art debiasing techniques. To aid this, we present Visualization of Embedding Representations for deBiasing system ("VERB"), an open-source web-based visualization tool that helps the users gain a technical understanding and visual intuition of the inner workings of debiasing techniques, with a focus on their geometric properties. In particular, VERB offers easy-to-follow use cases in exploring the effects of these debiasing techniques on the geometry of high-dimensional word vectors. To help understand how various debiasing techniques change the underlying geometry, VERB decomposes each technique into interpretable sequences of primitive transformations and highlights their effect on the word vectors using dimensionality reduction and interactive visual exploration. VERB is designed to target natural language processing (NLP) practitioners who are designing decision-making systems on top of word embeddings, and also researchers working with fairness and ethics of machine learning systems in NLP. It can also serve as a visual medium for education, which helps an NLP novice to understand and mitigate biases in word embeddings.

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Benwei Shi, Jeff M. Phillips

We provide a deterministic space-efficient algorithm for estimating ridge regression. For $n$ data points with $d$ features and a large enough regularization parameter, we provide a solution within $\varepsilon$ L$_2$ error using only $O(d/\varepsilon)$ space. This is the first $o(d^2)$ space algorithm for this classic problem. The algorithm sketches the covariance matrix by variants of Frequent Directions, which implies it can operate in insertion-only streams and a variety of distributed data settings. In comparisons to randomized sketching algorithms on synthetic and real-world datasets, our algorithm has less empirical error using less space and similar time.

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