Effects of sampling skewness of the importance-weighted risk estimator on model selection

19 Apr 2018  ·  Wouter M. Kouw, Marco Loog ·

Importance-weighting is a popular and well-researched technique for dealing with sample selection bias and covariate shift. It has desirable characteristics such as unbiasedness, consistency and low computational complexity. However, weighting can have a detrimental effect on an estimator as well. In this work, we empirically show that the sampling distribution of an importance-weighted estimator can be skewed. For sample selection bias settings, and for small sample sizes, the importance-weighted risk estimator produces overestimates for datasets in the body of the sampling distribution, i.e. the majority of cases, and large underestimates for data sets in the tail of the sampling distribution. These over- and underestimates of the risk lead to suboptimal regularization parameters when used for importance-weighted validation.

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