Tightening Mutual Information Based Bounds on Generalization Error

15 Jan 2019  ·  Yuheng Bu, Shaofeng Zou, Venugopal V. Veeravalli ·

An information-theoretic upper bound on the generalization error of supervised learning algorithms is derived. The bound is constructed in terms of the mutual information between each individual training sample and the output of the learning algorithm. The bound is derived under more general conditions on the loss function than in existing studies; nevertheless, it provides a tighter characterization of the generalization error. Examples of learning algorithms are provided to demonstrate the the tightness of the bound, and to show that it has a broad range of applicability. Application to noisy and iterative algorithms, e.g., stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD), is also studied, where the constructed bound provides a tighter characterization of the generalization error than existing results. Finally, it is demonstrated that, unlike existing bounds, which are difficult to compute and evaluate empirically, the proposed bound can be estimated easily in practice.

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