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# How Does Pseudo-Labeling Affect the Generalization Error of the Semi-Supervised Gibbs Algorithm?

*Proceedings of The 26th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics*, PMLR 206:8494-8520, 2023.

#### Abstract

We provide an exact characterization of the expected generalization error (gen-error) for semi-supervised learning (SSL) with pseudo-labeling via the Gibbs algorithm. The gen-error is expressed in terms of the symmetrized KL information between the output hypothesis, the pseudo-labeled dataset, and the labeled dataset. Distribution-free upper and lower bounds on the gen-error can also be obtained. Our findings offer new insights that the generalization performance of SSL with pseudo-labeling is affected not only by the information between the output hypothesis and input training data but also by the information shared between the labeled and pseudo-labeled data samples. This serves as a guideline to choose an appropriate pseudo-labeling method from a given family of methods. To deepen our understanding, we further explore two examples—mean estimation and logistic regression. In particular, we analyze how the ratio of the number of unlabeled to labeled data $\lambda$ affects the gen-error under both scenarios. As $\lambda$ increases, the gen-error for mean estimation decreases and then saturates at a value larger than when all the samples are labeled, and the gap can be quantified exactly with our analysis, and is dependent on the cross-covariance between the labeled and pseudo-labeled data samples. For logistic regression, the gen-error and the variance component of the excess risk also decrease as $\lambda$ increases.