Google Research

Learning with Labeling Induced Abstentions

Abstract

Consider a setting where we wish to automate an expensive task with a machine learning algorithm using a limited labeling resource. In such settings, examples routed for labeling are often out of scope for the machine learning algorithm. For example, in a spam detection setting, human reviewers not only provide labeled data but are such high-quality detectors of spam that examples routed to them no longer require machine evaluation. A consequence is that distribution of examples routed to the machine is intimately tied to the process generating labels. We introduce a formalization of this setting, and give an algorithm that simultaneously learns a model and decides when to request a label by leveraging ideas from both the abstention and active learning literatures. We prove an upper bound on the algorithm’s label complexity and a matching lower bound for any algorithm in this setting. We conduct a thorough set of experiments including an ablation study to test different components of our algorithm. We demonstrate the effectiveness of an efficient version of our algorithm over margin sampling on a variety of datasets.

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