Empirical Bayes via ERM and Rademacher complexities: the Poisson model
Proceedings of Thirty Sixth Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 195:5199-5235, 2023.
We consider the problem of empirical Bayes estimation for (multivariate) Poisson means. Existing solutions that have been shown theoretically optimal for minimizing the regret (excess risk over the Bayesian oracle that knows the prior) have several shortcomings. For example, the classical Robbins estimator does not retain the monotonicity property of the Bayes estimator and performs poorly under moderate sample size. Estimators based on the minimum distance and non-parametric maximum likelihood (NPMLE) methods correct these issues, but are computationally expensive with complexity growing exponentially with dimension. Extending the approach of Barbehenn andZhao (2022), in this work we construct monotone estimators based on empirical risk minimization (ERM) that retain similar theoretical guarantees and can be computed much more efficiently. Adapting the idea of offset Rademacher complexity Liang et al. (2015) to the non-standard loss and function class in empirical Bayes, we show that the shape-constrained ERM estimator attains the minimax regret within constant factors in one dimension and within logarithmic factors in multiple dimensions.