Christoph Sawade

Active evaluation of predictive models

ISBN: 978-3-86956-255-1
157 Seiten
Erscheinungsjahr 2013

17,00 

The field of machine learning studies algorithms that infer predictive models from data. Predictive models are applicable for many practical tasks such as spam filtering, face and handwritten digit recognition, and personalized product recommendation. In general, they are used to predict a target label for a given data instance. In order to make an informed decision about the deployment of a predictive model, it is crucial to know the model’s approximate performance. To evaluate performance, a set of labeled test instances is required that is drawn from the distribution the model will be exposed to at application time. In many practical scenarios, unlabeled test instances are readily available, but the process of labeling them can be a time- and cost-intensive task and may involve a human expert. This thesis addresses the problem of evaluating a given predictive model accurately with minimal labeling effort. We study an active model evaluation process that selects certain instances of the data according to an instrumental sampling distribution and queries their labels. We derive sampling distributions that minimize estimation error with respect to different performance measures such as error rate, mean squared error, and F-measures. An analysis of the distribution that governs the estimator leads to confidence intervals, which indicate how precise the error estimation is. Labeling costs may vary across different instances depending on certain characteristics of the data. For instance, documents differ in their length, comprehensibility, and technical requirements; these attributes affect the time a human labeler needs to judge relevance or to assign topics. To address this, the sampling distribution is extended to incorporate instance-specific costs. We empirically study conditions under which the active evaluation processes are more accurate than a standard estimate that draws equally many instances from the test distribution. We also address the problem of comparing the risks of two predictive models. The standard approach would be to draw instances according to the test distribution, label the selected instances, and apply statistical tests to identify significant differences. Drawing instances according to an instrumental distribution affects the power of a statistical test. We derive a sampling procedure that maximizes test power when used to select instances, and thereby minimizes the likelihood of choosing the inferior model. Furthermore, we investigate the task of comparing several alternative models; the objective of an evaluation could be to rank the models according to the risk that they incur or to identify the model with lowest risk. An experimental study shows that the active procedure leads to higher test power than the standard test in many application domains. Finally, we study the problem of evaluating the performance of ranking functions, which are used for example for web search. In practice, ranking performance is estimated by applying a given ranking model to a representative set of test queries and manually assessing the relevance of all retrieved items for each query. We apply the concepts of active evaluation and active comparison to ranking functions and derive optimal sampling distributions for the commonly used performance measures Discounted Cumulative Gain and Expected Reciprocal Rank. Experiments on web search engine data illustrate significant reductions in labeling costs.

The field of machine learning studies algorithms that infer predictive models from data. Predictive models are applicable for many practical tasks such as spam filtering, face and handwritten digit recognition, and personalized product recommendation. In general, they are used to predict a target label for a given data instance. In order to make an informed decision about the deployment of a predictive model, it is crucial to know the model’s approximate performance. To evaluate performance, a set of labeled test instances is required that is drawn from the distribution the model will be exposed to at application time. In many practical scenarios, unlabeled test instances are readily available, but the process of labeling them can be a time- and cost-intensive task and may involve a human expert. This thesis addresses the problem of evaluating a given predictive model accurately with minimal labeling effort. We study an active model evaluation process that selects certain instances of the data according to an instrumental sampling distribution and queries their labels. We derive sampling distributions that minimize estimation error with respect to different performance measures such as error rate, mean squared error, and F-measures. An analysis of the distribution that governs the estimator leads to confidence intervals, which indicate how precise the error estimation is. Labeling costs may vary across different instances depending on certain characteristics of the data. For instance, documents differ in their length, comprehensibility, and technical requirements; these attributes affect the time a human labeler needs to judge relevance or to assign topics. To address this, the sampling distribution is extended to incorporate instance-specific costs. We empirically study conditions under which the active evaluation processes are more accurate than a standard estimate that draws equally many instances from the test distribution. We also address the problem of comparing the risks of two predictive models. The standard approach would be to draw instances according to the test distribution, label the selected instances, and apply statistical tests to identify significant differences. Drawing instances according to an instrumental distribution affects the power of a statistical test. We derive a sampling procedure that maximizes test power when used to select instances, and thereby minimizes the likelihood of choosing the inferior model. Furthermore, we investigate the task of comparing several alternative models; the objective of an evaluation could be to rank the models according to the risk that they incur or to identify the model with lowest risk. An experimental study shows that the active procedure leads to higher test power than the standard test in many application domains. Finally, we study the problem of evaluating the performance of ranking functions, which are used for example for web search. In practice, ranking performance is estimated by applying a given ranking model to a representative set of test queries and manually assessing the relevance of all retrieved items for each query. We apply the concepts of active evaluation and active comparison to ranking functions and derive optimal sampling distributions for the commonly used performance measures Discounted Cumulative Gain and Expected Reciprocal Rank. Experiments on web search engine data illustrate significant reductions in labeling costs.