Dissertation Talk: Learning from People

Seminar | May 8 | 4-5 p.m. | 400 Cory Hall

 Nihar Bhadresh Shah, EECS, UC Berkeley

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

Learning from people represents a new and expanding frontier for data science. Two critical challenges in this domain are of developing algorithms for robust learning and designing incentive mechanisms for eliciting high-quality data. In this talk, I describe progress on these challenges in the context of two canonical settings, namely those of ranking and classification. In addressing the first challenge, I introduce a class of “permutation-based” models that are considerably richer than classical models, and present algorithms for estimation that are both rate-optimal and significantly more robust than prior state-of-the-art methods. I also discuss how these estimators automatically adapt and are simultaneously also rate-optimal over the classical models, thereby enjoying a surprising a win-win in the bias-variance tradeoff. As for the second challenge, I present a class of “multiplicative” incentive mechanisms, and show that they are the unique mechanisms that can guarantee honest responses. Extensive experiments on a popular crowdsourcing platform reveal that the theoretical guarantees of robustness and efficiency indeed translate to practice, yielding several-fold improvements over prior art.