Hypothesis Transfer Learning with Surrogate Classification Losses: Generalization Bounds through Algorithmic Stability
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:280-303, 2023.
Hypothesis transfer learning (HTL) contrasts domain adaptation by allowing for a previous task leverage, named the source, into a new one, the target, without requiring access to the source data. Indeed, HTL relies only on a hypothesis learnt from such source data, relieving the hurdle of expansive data storage and providing great practical benefits. Hence, HTL is highly beneficial for real-world applications relying on big data. The analysis of such a method from a theoretical perspective faces multiple challenges, particularly in classification tasks. This paper deals with this problem by studying the learning theory of HTL through algorithmic stability, an attractive theoretical framework for machine learning algorithms analysis. In particular, we are interested in the statistical behavior of the regularized empirical risk minimizers in the case of binary classification. Our stability analysis provides learning guarantees under mild assumptions. Consequently, we derive several complexity-free generalization bounds for essential statistical quantities like the training error, the excess risk and cross-validation estimates. These refined bounds allow understanding the benefits of transfer learning and comparing the behavior of standard losses in different scenarios, leading to valuable insights for practitioners.