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On Optimal Learning Under Targeted Data Poisoning
Steve Hanneke · Amin Karbasi · Mohammad Mahmoody · Idan Mehalel · Shay Moran

Tue Nov 29 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Hall J #822
Consider the task of learning a hypothesis class $\mathcal{H}$ in the presence of an adversary that can replace up to an $\eta$ fraction of the examples in the training set with arbitrary adversarial examples. The adversary aims to fail the learner on a particular target test point $x$ which is \emph{known} to the adversary but not to the learner. In this work we aim to characterize the smallest achievable error $\epsilon=\epsilon(\eta)$ by the learner in the presence of such an adversary in both realizable and agnostic settings. We fully achieve this in the realizable setting, proving that $\epsilon=\Theta(\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})\cdot \eta)$, where $\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})$ is the VC dimension of $\mathcal{H}$. Remarkably, we show that the upper bound can be attained by a deterministic learner. In the agnostic setting we reveal a more elaborate landscape: we devise a deterministic learner with a multiplicative regret guarantee of $\epsilon \leq C\cdot\mathtt{OPT} + O(\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})\cdot \eta)$, where $C > 1$ is a universal numerical constant. We complement this by showing that for any deterministic learner there is an attack which worsens its error to at least $2\cdot \mathtt{OPT}$. This implies that a multiplicative deterioration in the regret is unavoidable in this case. Finally, the algorithms we develop for achieving the optimal rates are inherently improper. Nevertheless, we show that for a variety of natural concept classes, such as linear classifiers, it is possible to retain the dependence $\epsilon=\Theta_{\mathcal{H}}(\eta)$ by a proper algorithm in the realizable setting. Here $\Theta_{\mathcal{H}}$ conceals a polynomial dependence on $\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})$.

Author Information

Steve Hanneke (Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago)
Amin Karbasi (Yale University)
Mohammad Mahmoody (University of Virginia)
Idan Mehalel (Computer Science Departmen, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology)
Shay Moran (Technion)

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