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

Ahmad Beirami · Flavio Calmon · Berivan Isik · Haewon Jeong · Matthew Nokleby · Cynthia Rush

The empirical success of state-of-the-art machine learning (ML) techniques has outpaced their theoretical understanding. Deep learning models, for example, perform far better than classical statistical learning theory predicts, leading to its widespread use by Industry and Government. At the same time, the deployment of ML systems that are not fully understood often leads to unexpected and detrimental individual-level impact. Finally, the large-scale adoption of ML means that ML systems are now critical infrastructure on which millions rely. In the face of these challenges, there is a critical need for theory that provides rigorous performance guarantees for practical ML models; guides the responsible deployment of ML in applications of social consequence; and enables the design of reliable ML systems in large-scale, distributed environments.

For decades, information theory has provided a mathematical foundation for the systems and algorithms that fuel the current data science revolution. Recent advances in privacy, fairness, and generalization bounds demonstrate that information theory will also play a pivotal role in the next decade of ML applications: information-theoretic methods can sharpen generalization bounds for deep learning, provide rigorous guarantees for compression of neural networks, promote fairness and privacy in ML training and deployment, and shed light on the limits of learning from noisy data.

We propose a workshop that brings together researchers and practitioners in ML and information theory to encourage knowledge transfer and collaboration between the sister fields. For information theorists, the workshop will highlight novel and socially-critical research directions that promote reliable, responsible, and rigorous development of ML. Moreover, the workshop will expose ICML attendees to emerging information-theoretic tools that may play a critical role in the next decade of ML applications.

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