Certified Computation from Unreliable Datasets


Themis Gouleakis, Christos Tzamos, Manolis Zampetakis ;
Proceedings of the 31st Conference On Learning Theory, PMLR 75:3271-3294, 2018.


A wide range of learning tasks require human input in labeling massive data. The collected data though are usually low quality and contain inaccuracies and errors. As a result, modern science and business face the problem of learning from unreliable data sets. In this work, we provide a generic approach that is based on \textit{verification} of only few records of the data set to guarantee high quality learning outcomes for various optimization objectives. Our method, identifies small sets of critical records and verifies their validity. We show that many problems only need $\text{poly}(1/\varepsilon)$ verifications, to ensure that the output of the computation is at most a factor of $(1 \pm \varepsilon)$ away from the truth. For any given instance, we provide an \textit{instance optimal} solution that verifies the minimum possible number of records to approximately certify correctness. Then using this instance optimal formulation of the problem we prove our main result: “every function that satisfies some Lipschitz continuity condition can be certified with a small number of verifications”. We show that the required Lipschitz continuity condition is satisfied even by some NP-complete problems, which illustrates the generality and importance of this theorem. In case this certification step fails, an invalid record will be identified. Removing these records and repeating until success, guarantees that the result will be accurate and will depend only on the verified records. Surprisingly, as we show, for several computation tasks more efficient methods are possible. These methods always guarantee that the produced result is not affected by the invalid records, since any invalid record that affects the output will be detected and verified.

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