Learning-based Support Estimation in Sublinear Time

Talya Eden · Piotr Indyk · Shyam Narayanan · Ronitt Rubinfeld · Sandeep Silwal · Tal Wagner

[ Abstract ] [ Livestream: Visit Oral Session 5 ] [ Paper ]
Tue 4 May 1:28 p.m. — 1:38 p.m. PDT
[ Paper ]

We consider the problem of estimating the number of distinct elements in a large data set (or, equivalently, the support size of the distribution induced by the data set) from a random sample of its elements. The problem occurs in many applications, including biology, genomics, computer systems and linguistics. A line of research spanning the last decade resulted in algorithms that estimate the support up to $ \pm \varepsilon n$ from a sample of size $O(\log^2(1/\varepsilon) \cdot n/\log n)$, where $n$ is the data set size. Unfortunately, this bound is known to be tight, limiting further improvements to the complexity of this problem. In this paper we consider estimation algorithms augmented with a machine-learning-based predictor that, given any element, returns an estimation of its frequency. We show that if the predictor is correct up to a constant approximation factor, then the sample complexity can be reduced significantly, to $$ \ \log (1/\varepsilon) \cdot n^{1-\Theta(1/\log(1/\varepsilon))}. $$ We evaluate the proposed algorithms on a collection of data sets, using the neural-network based estimators from {Hsu et al, ICLR'19} as predictors. Our experiments demonstrate substantial (up to 3x) improvements in the estimation accuracy compared to the state of the art algorithm.

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