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Generalization of Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning Algorithms: Recurring and Unseen Tasks
Alireza Fallah · Aryan Mokhtari · Asuman Ozdaglar

Tue Dec 07 08:30 AM -- 10:00 AM (PST) @
In this paper, we study the generalization properties of Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning (MAML) algorithms for supervised learning problems. We focus on the setting in which we train the MAML model over $m$ tasks, each with $n$ data points, and characterize its generalization error from two points of view: First, we assume the new task at test time is one of the training tasks, and we show that, for strongly convex objective functions, the expected excess population loss is bounded by $\mathcal{O}(1/mn)$. Second, we consider the MAML algorithm's generalization to an unseen task and show that the resulting generalization error depends on the total variation distance between the underlying distributions of the new task and the tasks observed during the training process. Our proof techniques rely on the connections between algorithmic stability and generalization bounds of algorithms. In particular, we propose a new definition of stability for meta-learning algorithms, which allows us to capture the role of both the number of tasks $m$ and number of samples per task $n$ on the generalization error of MAML.

Author Information

Alireza Fallah (MIT)
Aryan Mokhtari (UT Austin)
Asuman Ozdaglar (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Asu Ozdaglar received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, in 1996, and the S.M. and the Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1998 and 2003, respectively. She is currently a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also the director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. Her research expertise includes optimization theory, with emphasis on nonlinear programming and convex analysis, game theory, with applications in communication, social, and economic networks, distributed optimization and control, and network analysis with special emphasis on contagious processes, systemic risk and dynamic control. Professor Ozdaglar is the recipient of a Microsoft fellowship, the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching award, the NSF Career award, the 2008 Donald P. Eckman award of the American Automatic Control Council, the Class of 1943 Career Development Chair, the inaugural Steven and Renee Innovation Fellowship, and the 2014 Spira teaching award. She served on the Board of Governors of the Control System Society in 2010 and was an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. She is currently the area co-editor for a new area for the journal Operations Research, entitled "Games, Information and Networks. She is the co-author of the book entitled “Convex Analysis and Optimization” (Athena Scientific, 2003).

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