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Robust Weak Supervision with Variational Auto-Encoders

Francesco Tonolini · Nikolaos Aletras · Yunlong Jiao · Gabriella Kazai

Exhibit Hall 1 #402
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Recent advances in weak supervision (WS) techniques allow to mitigate the enormous cost and effort of human data annotation for supervised machine learning by automating it using simple rule-based labelling functions (LFs). However, LFs need to be carefully designed, often requiring expert domain knowledge and extensive validation for existing WS methods to be effective. To tackle this, we propose the Weak Supervision Variational Auto-Encoder (WS-VAE), a novel framework that combines unsupervised representation learning and weak labelling to reduce the dependence of WS on expert and manual engineering of LFs. Our technique learns from inputs and weak labels jointly to capture the input signals distribution with a latent space. The unsupervised representation component of the WS-VAE regularises the inference of weak labels, while a specifically designed decoder allows the model to learn the relevance of LFs for each input. These unique features lead to considerably improved robustness to the quality of LFs, compared to existing methods. An extensive empirical evaluation on a standard WS benchmark shows that our WS-VAE is competitive to state-of-the-art methods and substantially more robust to LF engineering.

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