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Spotlight Poster

Sample-Efficient Linear Representation Learning from Non-IID Non-Isotropic Data

Thomas T. Zhang · Leonardo Felipe Toso · James Anderson · Nikolai Matni

Halle B #181
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Thu 9 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT

Abstract: A powerful concept behind much of the recent progress in machine learning is the extraction of common features across data from heterogeneous sources or tasks. Intuitively, using all of one's data to learn a common representation function benefits both computational effort and statistical generalization by leaving a smaller number of parameters to fine-tune on a given task. Toward theoretically grounding these merits, we propose a general setting of recovering linear operators $M$from noisy vector measurements $y = Mx + w$, where the covariates $x$ may be both non-i.i.d. and non-isotropic. We demonstrate that existing isotropy-agnostic meta-learning approaches incur biases on the representation update, which causes the scaling of the noise terms to lose favorable dependence on the number of source tasks. This in turn can cause the sample complexity of representation learning to be bottlenecked by the single-task data size. We introduce an adaptation, $\texttt{De-bias}$ & $\texttt{Feature-Whiten}$ ($\texttt{DFW}$), of the popular alternating minimization-descent (AMD) scheme proposed in Collins et al., (2021), and establish linear convergence to the optimal representation with noise level scaling down with the $\textit{total}$ source data size. This leads to generalization bounds on the same order as an oracle empirical risk minimizer. We verify the vital importance of $\texttt{DFW}$ on various numerical simulations. In particular, we show that vanilla alternating-minimization descent fails catastrophically even for iid, but mildly non-isotropic data.Our analysis unifies and generalizes prior work, and provides a flexible framework for a wider range of applications, such as in controls and dynamical systems.

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