A Direct Sum Result for the Information Complexity of Learning


Ido Nachum, Jonathan Shafer, Amir Yehudayoff ;
Proceedings of the 31st Conference On Learning Theory, PMLR 75:1547-1568, 2018.


How many bits of information are required to PAC learn a class of hypotheses of VC dimension $d$? The mathematical setting we follow is that of Bassily et al., where the value of interest is the mutual information $\mathrm{I}(S;A(S))$ between the input sample $S$ and the hypothesis outputted by the learning algorithm $A$. We introduce a class of functions of VC dimension $d$ over the domain $\mathcal{X}$ with information complexity at least $\Omega \left(d\log \log \frac{|\mathcal{X}|}{d}\right)$ bits for any consistent and proper algorithm (deterministic or random). Bassily et al. proved a similar (but quantitatively weaker) result for the case $d=1$. The above result is in fact a special case of a more general phenomenon we explore. We define the notion of {\em information complexity} of a given class of functions $\cH$. Intuitively, it is the minimum amount of information that an algorithm for $\mathcal{X}$ must retain about its input to ensure consistency and properness. We prove a direct sum result for information complexity in this context; roughly speaking, the information complexity sums when combining several classes.

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