Learning from Aggregate Observations

We study the problem of learning from aggregate observations where supervision signals are given to sets of instances instead of individual instances, while the goal is still to predict labels of unseen individuals. A well-known example is multiple instance learning (MIL). In this paper, we extend MIL beyond binary classification to other problems such as multiclass classification and regression. We present a general probabilistic framework that accommodates a variety of aggregate observations, e.g., pairwise similarity/triplet comparison for classification and mean/difference/rank observation for regression. Simple maximum likelihood solutions can be applied to various differentiable models such as deep neural networks and gradient boosting machines. Moreover, we develop the concept of consistency up to an equivalence relation to characterize our estimator and show that it has nice convergence properties under mild assumptions. Experiments on three problem settings -- classification via triplet comparison and regression via mean/rank observation indicate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

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