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# Error Estimation for Randomized Least-Squares Algorithms via the Bootstrap

; Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:3217-3226, 2018.

#### Abstract

Over the course of the past decade, a variety of randomized algorithms have been proposed for computing approximate least-squares (LS) solutions in large-scale settings. A longstanding practical issue is that, for any given input, the user rarely knows the actual error of an approximate solution (relative to the exact solution). Likewise, it is difficult for the user to know precisely how much computation is needed to achieve the desired error tolerance. Consequently, the user often appeals to worst-case error bounds that tend to offer only qualitative guidance. As a more practical alternative, we propose a bootstrap method to compute a posteriori error estimates for randomized LS algorithms. These estimates permit the user to numerically assess the error of a given solution, and to predict how much work is needed to improve a "preliminary" solution. In addition, we provide theoretical consistency results for the method, which are the first such results in this context (to the best of our knowledge). From a practical standpoint, the method also has considerable flexibility, insofar as it can be applied to several popular sketching algorithms, as well as a variety of error metrics. Moreover, the extra step of error estimation does not add much cost to an underlying sketching algorithm. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of the method with empirical results.