Google Research

Understanding the Effects of Batching in Online Active Learning

Proceedings of the Twenty Third International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (2020)


Online active learning (AL) algorithms often assume immediate access to a label once a query has been made. However, due to practical constraints, the labels of these queried examples are generally only available in ``batches''. In this work, we present a novel analysis for a generic class of batch online AL algorithms and reveal that the effects of batching are in fact mild and only result in an additional term in the label complexity that is linear in the batch size. To our knowledge, this provides the first theoretical justification for such algorithms and we show how they can be applied to batch variants of three canonical online AL algorithms: IWAL, ORIWAL, and DHM. We also conduct an empirical study that corroborates the novel theoretical insights.

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