The Cost-free Nature of Optimally Tuning Tikhonov Regularizers and Other Ordered Smoothers

Jul 12, 2020

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We consider the problem of selecting the best estimator among a family of Tikhonov regularized estimators, or, alternatively, to select a linear combination of these regularizers that is as good as the best regularizer in the family. Our theory reveals that if the Tikhonov regularizers share the same penalty matrix with different tuning parameters, a convex procedure based on Q-aggregation achieves the mean square error of the best estimator, up to a small error term no larger than Cσ^2, where σ^2 is the noise level and C>0 is an absolute constant. Remarkably, the error term does not depend on the penalty matrix or the number of estimators as long as they share the same penalty matrix, i.e., it applies to any grid of tuning parameters, no matter how large the cardinality of the grid is. This reveals the surprising "cost-free" nature of optimally tuning Tikhonov regularizers, in striking contrast with the existing literature on aggregation of estimators where one typically has to pay a cost of σ^2log(M) where M is the number of estimators in the family. The result holds, more generally, for any family of ordered linear smoothers. This encompasses Ridge regression as well as Principal Component Regression. The result is extended to the problem of tuning Tikhonov regularizers with different penalty matrices.

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About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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