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# Robust Distribution Learning with Local and Global Adversarial Corruptions (extended abstract)

*Proceedings of Thirty Seventh Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 247:4007-4008, 2024.

#### Abstract

We consider learning in an adversarial environment, where an $\varepsilon$-fraction of samples from a distribution $P$ are arbitrarily modified (\emph{global} corruptions) and the remaining perturbations have average magnitude bounded by $\rho$ (\emph{local} corruptions). Given access to $n$ such corrupted samples, we seek a computationally efficient estimator $\hat{P}_n$ that minimizes the Wasserstein distance $W_1(\hat{P}_n,P)$. In fact, we attack the fine-grained task of minimizing $W_1(\Pi_\sharp \hat{P}_n, \Pi_\sharp P)$ for all orthogonal projections $\Pi \in \mathbb{R}^{d \times d}$, with performance scaling with $\mathrm{rank}(\Pi) = k$. This allows us to account simultaneously for mean estimation ($k=1$), distribution estimation ($k=d$), as well as the settings interpolating between these two extremes. We characterize the optimal population-limit risk for this task and then develop an efficient finite-sample algorithm with error bounded by $\sqrt{\varepsilon k} + \rho + \tilde{O}(k\sqrt{d}n^{-1/k})$ when $P$ has bounded covariance. Our efficient procedure relies on a novel trace norm approximation of an ideal yet intractable 2-Wasserstein projection estimator. We apply this algorithm to robust stochastic optimization, and, in the process, uncover a new method for overcoming the curse of dimensionality in Wasserstein distributionally robust optimization.