Machine Learning Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Exploring Weakly Labeled Data Across the Noise-Bias Spectrum

Robert W.H. Fisher

April 2016

Ph.D. Thesis


Keywords: Weakly labeled data, spectral methods, latent variable models

As the availability of unstructured data on the web continues to increase, it is becoming increasingly necessary to develop machine learning methods that rely less on human annotated training data. In this thesis, we present methods for learning from weakly labeled data. We present a unifying framework to understand weakly labeled data in terms of bias and noise and identify methods that are well suited to learning from certain types of weak labels. To compensate for the tremendous sizes of weakly labeled datasets, we leverage computationally efficient and statistically consistent spectral methods. Using these methods, we present results from four diverse, real-world applications coupled with a unifying simulation environment. This allows us to make general observations that would not be apparent when examining any one application on its own. These contributions allow us to significantly improve prediction when labeled data is available, and they also make learning tractable when the cost of acquiring annotated data is prohibitively high.

119 pages

Thesis Committee:
Reid Simmons (Chair)
Geoffrey Gordon
Carolyn Penstein Rosé
Dieter Fox (University of Washington)

Manuela M. Veloso, Head, Machine Learning Department
Andrew W. Moore, Dean, School of Computer Science

SCS Technical Report Collection
School of Computer Science