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Neria Uzan, Nir Weinberger

We propose a game-based formulation for learning dimensionality-reducing representations of feature vectors, when only a prior knowledge on future prediction tasks is available. In this game, the first player chooses a representation, and then the second player adversarially chooses a prediction task from a given class, representing the prior knowledge. The first player aims is to minimize, and the second player to maximize, the regret: The minimal prediction loss using the representation, compared to the same loss using the original features. For the canonical setting in which the representation, the response to predict and the predictors are all linear functions, and under the mean squared error loss function, we derive the theoretically optimal representation in pure strategies, which shows the effectiveness of the prior knowledge, and the optimal regret in mixed strategies, which shows the usefulness of randomizing the representation. For general representations and loss functions, we propose an efficient algorithm to optimize a randomized representation. The algorithm only requires the gradients of the loss function, and is based on incrementally adding a representation rule to a mixture of such rules.

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Omer Cohen, Ron Meir, Nir Weinberger

We consider a statistical version of curriculum learning (CL) in a parametric prediction setting. The learner is required to estimate a target parameter vector, and can adaptively collect samples from either the target model, or other source models that are similar to the target model, but less noisy. We consider three types of learners, depending on the level of side-information they receive. The first two, referred to as strong/weak-oracle learners, receive high/low degrees of information about the models, and use these to learn. The third, a fully adaptive learner, estimates the target parameter vector without any prior information. In the single source case, we propose an elimination learning method, whose risk matches that of a strong-oracle learner. In the multiple source case, we advocate that the risk of the weak-oracle learner is a realistic benchmark for the risk of adaptive learners. We develop an adaptive multiple elimination-rounds CL algorithm, and characterize instance-dependent conditions for its risk to match that of the weak-oracle learner. We consider instance-dependent minimax lower bounds, and discuss the challenges associated with defining the class of instances for the bound. We derive two minimax lower bounds, and determine the conditions under which the performance weak-oracle learner is minimax optimal.

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Dror Freirich, Nir Weinberger, Ron Meir

Whenever inspected by humans, reconstructed signals should not be distinguished from real ones. Typically, such a high perceptual quality comes at the price of high reconstruction error, and vice versa. We study this distortion-perception (DP) tradeoff over finite-alphabet channels, for the Wasserstein-$1$ distance induced by a general metric as the perception index, and an arbitrary distortion matrix. Under this setting, we show that computing the DP function and the optimal reconstructions is equivalent to solving a set of linear programming problems. We provide a structural characterization of the DP tradeoff, where the DP function is piecewise linear in the perception index. We further derive a closed-form expression for the case of binary sources.

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Daniel Goldfarb, Itay Evron, Nir Weinberger, Daniel Soudry, Paul Hand

In continual learning, catastrophic forgetting is affected by multiple aspects of the tasks. Previous works have analyzed separately how forgetting is affected by either task similarity or overparameterization. In contrast, our paper examines how task similarity and overparameterization jointly affect forgetting in an analyzable model. Specifically, we focus on two-task continual linear regression, where the second task is a random orthogonal transformation of an arbitrary first task (an abstraction of random permutation tasks). We derive an exact analytical expression for the expected forgetting - and uncover a nuanced pattern. In highly overparameterized models, intermediate task similarity causes the most forgetting. However, near the interpolation threshold, forgetting decreases monotonically with the expected task similarity. We validate our findings with linear regression on synthetic data, and with neural networks on established permutation task benchmarks.

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Maximilian Egger, Rawad Bitar, Antonia Wachter-Zeh, Deniz Gündüz, Nir Weinberger

The problem of identifying the channel with the highest capacity among several discrete memoryless channels (DMCs) is considered. The problem is cast as a pure-exploration multi-armed bandit problem, which follows the practical use of training sequences to sense the communication channel statistics. A capacity estimator is proposed and tight confidence bounds on the estimator error are derived. Based on this capacity estimator, a gap-elimination algorithm termed BestChanID is proposed, which is oblivious to the capacity-achieving input distribution and is guaranteed to output the DMC with the largest capacity, with a desired confidence. Furthermore, two additional algorithms NaiveChanSel and MedianChanEl, that output with certain confidence a DMC with capacity close to the maximal, are introduced. Each of those algorithms is beneficial in a different regime and can be used as a subroutine in BestChanID. The sample complexity of all algorithms is analyzed as a function of the desired confidence parameter, the number of channels, and the channels' input and output alphabet sizes. The cost of best channel identification is shown to scale quadratically with the alphabet size, and a fundamental lower bound for the required number of channel senses to identify the best channel with a certain confidence is derived.

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Chen Zeno, Greg Ongie, Yaniv Blumenfeld, Nir Weinberger, Daniel Soudry

Neural network (NN) denoisers are an essential building block in many common tasks, ranging from image reconstruction to image generation. However, the success of these models is not well understood from a theoretical perspective. In this paper, we aim to characterize the functions realized by shallow ReLU NN denoisers -- in the common theoretical setting of interpolation (i.e., zero training loss) with a minimal representation cost (i.e., minimal $\ell^2$ norm weights). First, for univariate data, we derive a closed form for the NN denoiser function, find it is contractive toward the clean data points, and prove it generalizes better than the empirical MMSE estimator at a low noise level. Next, for multivariate data, we find the NN denoiser functions in a closed form under various geometric assumptions on the training data: data contained in a low-dimensional subspace, data contained in a union of one-sided rays, or several types of simplexes. These functions decompose into a sum of simple rank-one piecewise linear interpolations aligned with edges and/or faces connecting training samples. We empirically verify this alignment phenomenon on synthetic data and real images.

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Nir Weinberger, Michal Yemini

This paper introduces the informational multi-armed bandit (IMAB) model in which at each round, a player chooses an arm, observes a symbol, and receives an unobserved reward in the form of the symbol's self-information. Thus, the expected reward of an arm is the Shannon entropy of the probability mass function of the source that generates its symbols. The player aims to maximize the expected total reward associated with the entropy values of the arms played. Under the assumption that the alphabet size is known, two UCB-based algorithms are proposed for the IMAB model which consider the biases of the plug-in entropy estimator. The first algorithm optimistically corrects the bias term in the entropy estimation. The second algorithm relies on data-dependent confidence intervals that adapt to sources with small entropy values. Performance guarantees are provided by upper bounding the expected regret of each of the algorithms. Furthermore, in the Bernoulli case, the asymptotic behavior of these algorithms is compared to the Lai-Robbins lower bound for the pseudo regret. Additionally, under the assumption that the \textit{exact} alphabet size is unknown, and instead the player only knows a loose upper bound on it, a UCB-based algorithm is proposed, in which the player aims to reduce the regret caused by the unknown alphabet size in a finite time regime. Numerical results illustrating the expected regret of the algorithms presented in the paper are provided.

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Yihan Zhang, Nir Weinberger

We consider a high-dimensional mean estimation problem over a binary hidden Markov model, which illuminates the interplay between memory in data, sample size, dimension, and signal strength in statistical inference. In this model, an estimator observes $n$ samples of a $d$-dimensional parameter vector $\theta_{*}\in\mathbb{R}^{d}$, multiplied by a random sign $ S_i $ ($1\le i\le n$), and corrupted by isotropic standard Gaussian noise. The sequence of signs $\{S_{i}\}_{i\in[n]}\in\{-1,1\}^{n}$ is drawn from a stationary homogeneous Markov chain with flip probability $\delta\in[0,1/2]$. As $\delta$ varies, this model smoothly interpolates two well-studied models: the Gaussian Location Model for which $\delta=0$ and the Gaussian Mixture Model for which $\delta=1/2$. Assuming that the estimator knows $\delta$, we establish a nearly minimax optimal (up to logarithmic factors) estimation error rate, as a function of $\|\theta_{*}\|,\delta,d,n$. We then provide an upper bound to the case of estimating $\delta$, assuming a (possibly inaccurate) knowledge of $\theta_{*}$. The bound is proved to be tight when $\theta_{*}$ is an accurately known constant. These results are then combined to an algorithm which estimates $\theta_{*}$ with $\delta$ unknown a priori, and theoretical guarantees on its error are stated.

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Tom Norman, Nir Weinberger, Kfir Y. Levy

We investigate robust linear regression where data may be contaminated by an oblivious adversary, i.e., an adversary than may know the data distribution but is otherwise oblivious to the realizations of the data samples. This model has been previously analyzed under strong assumptions. Concretely, $\textbf{(i)}$ all previous works assume that the covariance matrix of the features is positive definite; and $\textbf{(ii)}$ most of them assume that the features are centered (i.e. zero mean). Additionally, all previous works make additional restrictive assumption, e.g., assuming that the features are Gaussian or that the corruptions are symmetrically distributed. In this work we go beyond these assumptions and investigate robust regression under a more general set of assumptions: $\textbf{(i)}$ we allow the covariance matrix to be either positive definite or positive semi definite, $\textbf{(ii)}$ we do not necessarily assume that the features are centered, $\textbf{(iii)}$ we make no further assumption beyond boundedness (sub-Gaussianity) of features and measurement noise. Under these assumption we analyze a natural SGD variant for this problem and show that it enjoys a fast convergence rate when the covariance matrix is positive definite. In the positive semi definite case we show that there are two regimes: if the features are centered we can obtain a standard convergence rate; otherwise the adversary can cause any learner to fail arbitrarily.

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Nir Weinberger, Guy Bresler

This paper studies the problem of estimating the means $\pm\theta_{*}\in\mathbb{R}^{d}$ of a symmetric two-component Gaussian mixture $\delta_{*}\cdot N(\theta_{*},I)+(1-\delta_{*})\cdot N(-\theta_{*},I)$ where the weights $\delta_{*}$ and $1-\delta_{*}$ are unequal. Assuming that $\delta_{*}$ is known, we show that the population version of the EM algorithm globally converges if the initial estimate has non-negative inner product with the mean of the larger weight component. This can be achieved by the trivial initialization $\theta_{0}=0$. For the empirical iteration based on $n$ samples, we show that when initialized at $\theta_{0}=0$, the EM algorithm adaptively achieves the minimax error rate $\tilde{O}\Big(\min\Big\{\frac{1}{(1-2\delta_{*})}\sqrt{\frac{d}{n}},\frac{1}{\|\theta_{*}\|}\sqrt{\frac{d}{n}},\left(\frac{d}{n}\right)^{1/4}\Big\}\Big)$ in no more than $O\Big(\frac{1}{\|\theta_{*}\|(1-2\delta_{*})}\Big)$ iterations (with high probability). We also consider the EM iteration for estimating the weight $\delta_{*}$, assuming a fixed mean $\theta$ (which is possibly mismatched to $\theta_{*}$). For the empirical iteration of $n$ samples, we show that the minimax error rate $\tilde{O}\Big(\frac{1}{\|\theta_{*}\|}\sqrt{\frac{d}{n}}\Big)$ is achieved in no more than $O\Big(\frac{1}{\|\theta_{*}\|^{2}}\Big)$ iterations. These results robustify and complement recent results of Wu and Zhou obtained for the equal weights case $\delta_{*}=1/2$.

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