Machine learning theory

We study various aspects related to theoretical understanding of ML models and algorithms.

Area 8. Machine learning theory.svg



  • Characterizing Graph Datasets for Node Classification: Homophily-Heterophily Dichotomy and Beyond

    Graph machine learningMachine learning theory
    Oleg Platonov
    Denis Kuznedelev
    Artem Babenko
    Liudmila Prokhorenkova
    NeurIPS, 2023

    Homophily is a graph property describing the tendency of edges to connect similar nodes; the opposite is called heterophily. It is often believed that heterophilous graphs are challenging for standard message-passing graph neural networks (GNNs), and much effort has been put into developing efficient methods for this setting. However, there is no universally agreed-upon measure of homophily in the literature. In this work, we show that commonly used homophily measures have critical drawbacks preventing the comparison of homophily levels across different datasets. For this, we formalize desirable properties for a proper homophily measure and verify which measures satisfy which properties. In particular, we show that a measure that we call adjusted homophily satisfies more desirable properties than other popular homophily measures while being rarely used in graph machine learning literature. Then, we go beyond the homophily-heterophily dichotomy and propose a new characteristic that allows one to further distinguish different sorts of heterophily. The proposed label informativeness (LI) characterizes how much information a neighbor's label provides about a node's label. We prove that this measure satisfies important desirable properties. We also observe empirically that LI better agrees with GNN performance compared to homophily measures, which confirms that it is a useful characteristic of the graph structure.

  • First Order Methods with Markovian Noise: from Acceleration to Variational Inequalities

    OptimizationMachine learning theory
    Aleksandr Beznosikov
    Sergey Samsonov
    Marina Sheshukova
    Alexander Gasnikov
    Alexey Naumov
    Eric Moulines
    NeurIPS, 2023

    This paper delves into stochastic optimization problems that involve Markovian noise. We present a unified approach for the theoretical analysis of first-order gradient methods for stochastic optimization and variational inequalities. Our approach covers scenarios for both non-convex and strongly convex minimization problems. To achieve an optimal (linear) dependence on the mixing time of the underlying noise sequence, we use the randomized batching scheme, which is based on the multilevel Monte Carlo method. Moreover, our technique allows us to eliminate the limiting assumptions of previous research on Markov noise, such as the need for a bounded domain and uniformly bounded stochastic gradients. Our extension to variational inequalities under Markovian noise is original. Additionally, we provide lower bounds that match the oracle complexity of our method in the case of strongly convex optimization problems.

  • Similarity, Compression and Local Steps: Three Pillars of Efficient Communications for Distributed Variational Inequalities

    OptimizationMachine learning theory
    Aleksandr Beznosikov
    Martin Takáč
    Alexander Gasnikov
    NeurIPS, 2023

    Variational inequalities are a broad and flexible class of problems that includes minimization, saddle point, and fixed point problems as special cases. Therefore, variational inequalities are used in various applications ranging from equilibrium search to adversarial learning. With the increasing size of data and models, today’s instances demand parallel and distributed computing for real-world machine learning problems, most of which can be represented as variational inequalities. Meanwhile, most distributed approaches have a significant bottleneck - the cost of communications. The three main techniques to reduce the total number of communication rounds and the cost of one such round are the similarity of local functions, compression of transmitted information, and local updates. In this paper, we combine all these approaches. Such a triple synergy did not exist before for variational inequalities and saddle problems, nor even for minimization problems. The methods presented in this paper have the best theoretical guarantees of communication complexity and are significantly ahead of other methods for distributed variational inequalities. The theoretical results are confirmed by adversarial learning experiments on synthetic and real datasets.