PAC-Bayes under potentially heavy tails

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Matthew Holland


We derive PAC-Bayesian learning guarantees for heavy-tailed losses, and obtain a novel optimal Gibbs posterior which enjoys finite-sample excess risk bounds at logarithmic confidence. Our core technique itself makes use of PAC-Bayesian inequalities in order to derive a robust risk estimator, which by design is easy to compute. In particular, only assuming that the first three moments of the loss distribution are bounded, the learning algorithm derived from this estimator achieves nearly sub-Gaussian statistical error, up to the quality of the prior.