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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 16, 2024
  2. Is overparameterization a privacy liability? In this work, we study the effect that the number of parameters has on a classifier's vulnerability to membership inference attacks. We first demonstrate how the number of parameters of a model can induce a privacy--utility trade-off: increasing the number of parameters generally improves generalization performance at the expense of lower privacy. However, remarkably, we then show that if coupled with proper regularization, increasing the number of parameters of a model can actually simultaneously increase both its privacy and performance, thereby eliminating the privacy--utility trade-off. Theoretically, we demonstrate this curious phenomenon for logistic regression with ridge regularization in a bi-level feature ensemble setting. Pursuant to our theoretical exploration, we develop a novel leave-one-out analysis tool to precisely characterize the vulnerability of a linear classifier to the optimal membership inference attack. We empirically exhibit this "blessing of dimensionality" for neural networks on a variety of tasks using early stopping as the regularizer. 
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    Among the most successful methods for sparsifying deep (neural) networks are those that adaptively mask the network weights throughout training. By examining this masking, or dropout, in the linear case, we uncover a duality between such adaptive methods and regularization through the so-called "η-trick" that casts both as iteratively reweighted optimizations. We show that any dropout strategy that adapts to the weights in a monotonic way corresponds to an effective subquadratic regularization penalty, and therefore leads to sparse solutions. We obtain the effective penalties for several popular sparsification strategies, which are remarkably similar to classical penalties commonly used in sparse optimization. Considering variational dropout as a case study, we demonstrate similar empirical behavior between the adaptive dropout method and classical methods on the task of deep network sparsification, validating our theory. 
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    Ridge-like regularization often leads to improved generalization performance of machine learning models by mitigating overfitting. While ridge-regularized machine learning methods are widely used in many important applications, direct training via optimization could become challenging in huge data scenarios with millions of examples and features. We tackle such challenges by proposing a general approach that achieves ridge-like regularization through implicit techniques named Minipatch Ridge (MPRidge). Our approach is based on taking an ensemble of coefficients of unregularized learners trained on many tiny, random subsamples of both the examples and features of the training data, which we call minipatches. We empirically demonstrate that MPRidge induces an implicit ridge-like regularizing effect and performs nearly the same as explicit ridge regularization for a general class of predictors including logistic regression, SVM, and robust regression. Embarrassingly parallelizable, MPRidge provides a computationally appealing alternative to inducing ridge-like regularization for improving generalization performance in challenging big-data settings. 
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  5. Ensemble methods that average over a collection of independent predictors that are each limited to a subsampling of both the examples and features of the training data command a significant presence in machine learning, such as the ever-popular random forest, yet the nature of the subsampling effect, particularly of the features, is not well understood. We study the case of an ensemble of linear predictors, where each individual predictor is fi t using ordinary least squares on a random submatrix of the data matrix. We show that, under standard Gaussianity assumptions, when the number of features selected for each predictor is optimally tuned, the asymptotic risk of a large ensemble is equal to the asymptotic ridge regression risk, which is known to be optimal among linear predictors in this setting. In addition to eliciting this implicit regularization that results from subsampling, we also connect this ensemble to the dropout technique used in training deep (neural) networks, another strategy that has been shown to have a ridge-like regularizing effect. 
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    In this paper, we introduce a new online decision making paradigm that we call Thresholding Graph Bandits. The main goal is to efficiently identify a subset of arms in a multi-armed bandit problem whose means are above a specified threshold. While traditionally in such problems, the arms are assumed to be independent, in our paradigm we further suppose that we have access to the similarity between the arms in the form of a graph, allowing us gain information about the arm means in fewer samples. Such settings play a key role in a wide range of modern decision making problems where rapid decisions need to be made in spite of the large number of options available at each time. We present GrAPL, a novel algorithm for the thresholding graph bandit problem. We demonstrate theoretically that this algorithm is effective in taking advantage of the graph structure when available and the reward function homophily (that strongly connected arms have similar rewards) when favorable. We confirm these theoretical findings via experiments on both synthetic and real data. 
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