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On the Recursive Teaching Dimension of VC Classes
Peter Chen · Xi Chen · Yu Cheng · Bo Tang

Wed Dec 07 09:00 AM -- 12:30 PM (PST) @ Area 5+6+7+8 #104
The recursive teaching dimension (RTD) of a concept class $C \subseteq \{0, 1\}^n$, introduced by Zilles et al. [ZLHZ11], is a complexity parameter measured by the worst-case number of labeled examples needed to learn any target concept of $C$ in the recursive teaching model. In this paper, we study the quantitative relation between RTD and the well-known learning complexity measure VC dimension (VCD), and improve the best known upper and (worst-case) lower bounds on the recursive teaching dimension with respect to the VC dimension. Given a concept class $C \subseteq \{0, 1\}^n$ with $VCD(C) = d$, we first show that $RTD(C)$ is at most $d 2^{d+1}$. This is the first upper bound for $RTD(C)$ that depends only on $VCD(C)$, independent of the size of the concept class $|C|$ and its~domain size $n$. Before our work, the best known upper bound for $RTD(C)$ is $O(d 2^d \log \log |C|)$, obtained by Moran et al. [MSWY15]. We remove the $\log \log |C|$ factor. We also improve the lower bound on the worst-case ratio of $RTD(C)$ to $VCD(C)$. We present a family of classes $\{ C_k \}_{k \ge 1}$ with $VCD(C_k) = 3k$ and $RTD(C_k)=5k$, which implies that the ratio of $RTD(C)$ to $VCD(C)$ in the worst case can be as large as $5/3$. Before our work, the largest ratio known was $3/2$ as obtained by Kuhlmann [Kuh99]. Since then, no finite concept class $C$ has been known to satisfy $RTD(C) > (3/2) VCD(C)$.

Author Information

Peter Chen (Columbia University)
Xi Chen (Columbia University)

Xi Chen is an associate professor with tenure at Stern School of Business at New York University, who is also an affiliated professor to Computer Science and Center for Data Science. Before that, he was a Postdoc in the group of Prof. Michael Jordan at UC Berkeley. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He studies high-dimensional statistical learning, online learning, large-scale stochastic optimization, and applications to operations. He has published more than 20 journal articles in statistics, machine learning, and operations, and 30 top machine learning peer-reviewed conference proceedings. He received NSF Career Award, ICSA Outstanding Young Researcher Award, Faculty Research Awards from Google, Adobe, Alibaba, and Bloomberg, and was featured in Forbes list of “30 Under30 in Science”.

Yu Cheng (U of Southern California)
Bo Tang (University of Oxford)

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