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Boosting - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Boosting. LING 572 Fei Xia 02/01/06. Outline. Basic concepts Theoretical validity Case study: POS tagging Summary. Basic concepts. Overview of boosting. Introduced by Schapire and Freund in 1990s. “Boosting”: convert a weak learning algorithm into a strong one.

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Boosting l.jpg


LING 572

Fei Xia


Outline l.jpg

  • Basic concepts

  • Theoretical validity

  • Case study:

    • POS tagging

  • Summary

Overview of boosting l.jpg
Overview of boosting

  • Introduced by Schapire and Freund in 1990s.

  • “Boosting”: convert a weak learning algorithm into a strong one.

  • Main idea: Combine many weak classifiers to produce a powerful committee.

  • Algorithms:

    • AdaBoost: adaptive boosting

    • Gentle AdaBoost

    • BrownBoost

Bagging l.jpg


Random sample

with replacement







Random sample

with replacement

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Weighted Sample



Training Sample


Weighted Sample





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Main ideas

  • Train a set of weak hypotheses: h1, …., hT.

  • The combined hypothesis H is a weighted majority vote of the T weak hypotheses.

    • Each hypothesis ht has a weight αt.

  • During the training, focus on the examples that are misclassified.

     At round t, example xi has the weight Dt(i).

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Algorithm highlight

  • Training time: (h1, 1), …., (ht, t), …

  • Test time: for x,

    • Call each classifier ht, and calculate ht(x)

    • Calculate the sum: tt * ht(x)

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Basic Setting

  • Binary classification problem

  • Training data:

  • Dt(i): the weight of xi at round t. D1(i)=1/m.

  • A learner L that finds a weak hypothesis ht: X  Y given the training set and Dt

  • The error of a weak hypothesis ht:

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The basic AdaBoost algorithm

  • For t=1, …, T

  • Train weak learner ht : X  {-1, 1}using training data and Dt

  • Get the error rate:

  • Choose classifier weight:

  • Update the instance weights:

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The new weights



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An example






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Two iterations

Initial weights:

1st iteration:

2nd iteration:

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The general AdaBoost algorithm

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The basic and general algorithms

  • In the basic algorithm, it can be proven that

  • The hypothesis weight αt is decided at round t

  • Di (The weight distribution of training examples) is updated at every round t.

  • Choice of weak learner:

    • its error should be less than 0.5:

    • Ex: DT (C4.5), decision stump

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Experiment results(Freund and Schapire, 1996)

Error rate on a set of 27 benchmark problems

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Training error of H(x)

Final hypothesis:

Training error is defined to be

It can be proved that training error

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Training error for basic algorithm


Training error

 Training error drops exponentially fast.

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Generalization error (expected test error)

  • Generalization error, with high probability, is at most

    T: the number of rounds of boosting

    m: the size of the sample

    d: VC-dimension of the base classifier space

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Selecting weak hypotheses

  • Training error

  • Choose ht that minimize Zt.

  • See “case study” for details.

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Two ways

  • Converting a multiclass problem to binary problem first:

    • One-vs-all

    • All-pairs

    • ECOC

  • Extending boosting directly

    • AdaBoost.M1

    • AdaBoost.M2  Prob 2 in Hw5

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Overview(Abney, Schapire and Singer, 1999)

  • Boosting applied to Tagging and PP attachment

  • Issues:

    • How to learn weak hypotheses?

    • How to deal with multi-class problems?

    • Local decision vs. globally best sequence

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Weak hypotheses

  • In this paper, a weak hypothesis h simply tests a predicate (a.k.a. feature), Φ:

    h(x) = p1 if Φ(x) is true, h(x)=p0 o.w.

     h(x)=pΦ(x)

  • Examples:

    • POS tagging: Φ is “PreviousWord=the”

    • PP attachment: Φ is “V=accused, N1=president, P=of”

  • Choosing a list of hypotheses  choosing a list of features.

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Finding weak hypotheses

  • The training error of the combined hypothesis is at most


     choose ht that minimizes Zt.

  • ht corresponds to a (Φt, p0, p1) tuple.

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Finding weak hypotheses (cont)

  • For each Φ, calculate Zt

    Choose the one with min Zt.

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Sequential model

  • Sequential model: a Viterbi-style optimization to choose a globally best sequence of labels.

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Main ideas

  • Boosting combines many weak classifiers to produce a powerful committee.

  • Base learning algorithms that only need to be better than random.

  • The instance weights are updated during training to put more emphasis on hard examples.

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Strengths of AdaBoost

  • Theoretical validity: it comes with a set of theoretical guarantee (e.g., training error, test error)

  • It performs well on many tasks.

  • It can identify outliners: i.e. examples that are either mislabeled or that are inherently ambiguous and hard to categorize.

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Weakness of AdaBoost

  • The actual performance of boosting depends on the data and the base learner.

  • Boosting seems to be especially susceptible to noise.

  • When the number of outliners is very large, the emphasis placed on the hard examples can hurt the performance.

     “Gentle AdaBoost”, “BrownBoost”

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Other properties

  • Simplicity (conceptual)

  • Efficiency at training

  • Efficiency at testing time

  • Handling multi-class

  • Interpretability

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Bagging vs. Boosting (Freund and Schapire 1996)

  • Bagging always uses resampling rather than reweighting.

  • Bagging does not modify the weight distribution over examples or mislabels, but instead always uses the uniform distribution

  • In forming the final hypothesis, bagging gives equal weight to each of the weak hypotheses

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Relation to other topics

  • Game theory

  • Linear programming

  • Bregman distances

  • Support-vector machines

  • Brownian motion

  • Logistic regression

  • Maximum-entropy methods such as iterative scaling.

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Sources of Bias and Variance

  • Bias arises when the classifier cannot represent the true function – that is, the classifier underfits the data

  • Variance arises when the classifier overfits the data

  • There is often a tradeoff between bias and variance

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Effect of Bagging

  • If the bootstrap replicate approximation were correct, then bagging would reduce variance without changing bias.

  • In practice, bagging can reduce both bias and variance

    • For high-bias classifiers, it can reduce bias

    • For high-variance classifiers, it can reduce variance

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Effect of Boosting

  • In the early iterations, boosting is primary a bias-reducing method

  • In later iterations, it appears to be primarily a variance-reducing method

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How to choose αt for ht with range [-1,1]?

  • Training error

  • Choose αt that minimize Zt.

Issues l.jpg

  • Given ht, how to choose αt?

  • How to select ht?

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How to choose αt when ht has range {-1,1}?