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Label Distributionally Robust Losses for Multi-class Classification: Consistency, Robustness and Adaptivity

Dixian Zhu · Yiming Ying · Tianbao Yang

Exhibit Hall 1 #423
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Abstract: We study a family of loss functions named label-distributionally robust (LDR) losses for multi-class classification that are formulated from distributionally robust optimization (DRO) perspective, where the uncertainty in the given label information are modeled and captured by taking the worse case of distributional weights. The benefits of this perspective are several fold: (i) it provides a unified framework to explain the classical cross-entropy (CE) loss and SVM loss and their variants, (ii) it includes a special family corresponding to the temperature-scaled CE loss, which is widely adopted but poorly understood; (iii) it allows us to achieve adaptivity to the uncertainty degree of label information at an instance level. Our contributions include: (1) we study both consistency and robustness by establishing top-$k$ ($\forall k\geq 1$) consistency of LDR losses for multi-class classification, and a negative result that a top-$1$ consistent and symmetric robust loss cannot achieve top-$k$ consistency simultaneously for all $k\geq 2$; (2) we propose a new adaptive LDR loss that automatically adapts the individualized temperature parameter to the noise degree of class label of each instance; (3) we demonstrate stable and competitive performance for the proposed adaptive LDR loss on 7 benchmark datasets under 6 noisy label and 1 clean settings against 13 loss functions, and on one real-world noisy dataset. The method is open-sourced at

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