Workshop: Information-Theoretic Methods for Rigorous, Responsible, and Reliable Machine Learning (ITR3)

Sub-population Guarantees for Importance Weights and KL-Divergence Estimation

Parikshit Gopalan · Nina Narodytska · Omer Reingold · Vatsal Sharan · Udi Wieder

Abstract: The ratio between the probability that two distributions give to points in the domain are called importance weights or density ratios and they play a fundamental role in machine learning and information theory. Estimating them from samples is the subject of extensive research in multiple communities. However, there are strong lower bounds known for point-wise accurate estimation, and most theoretical guarantees require strong assumptions about the distributions. In this work we sidestep the lower bound by providing accuracy guarantees for the estimation of importance weights over \emph{sub-populations} belonging to a family $\mC$ of subsets of the domain. We argue that they capture intuitive expectations about importance weights, and could be viewed as a notion of a multi-group fairness guarantee. We formulate {\em sandwiching bounds} for sets: upper and lower bounds on the expected importance weight conditioned on a set. Additionally we show upper and lower bound on the expected log of the importance weight, often referred as the Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence between the distributions, a problem which received a lot of attention on its own. Our techniques are inspired by the notion of a multicalibrated predictor \cite{hkrr2018}, originally perceived as a fairness guarantee for predictors. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in experiments.

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