Preference-Based Batch and Sequential Teaching: Towards a Unified View of Models

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

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Farnam Mansouri, Yuxin Chen, Ara Vartanian, Jerry Zhu, Adish Singla


Algorithmic machine teaching studies the interaction between a teacher and a learner where the teacher selects labeled examples aiming at teaching a target hypothesis. In a quest to lower teaching complexity and to achieve more natural teacher-learner interactions, several teaching models and complexity measures have been proposed for both the batch settings (e.g., worst-case, recursive, preference-based, and non-clashing models) as well as the sequential settings (e.g., local preference-based model). To better understand the connections between these different batch and sequential models, we develop a novel framework which captures the teaching process via preference functions $\Sigma$. In our framework, each function $\sigma \in \Sigma$ induces a teacher-learner pair with teaching complexity as $\TD(\sigma)$. We show that the above-mentioned teaching models are equivalent to specific types/families of preference functions in our framework. This equivalence, in turn, allows us to study the differences between two important teaching models, namely $\sigma$ functions inducing the strongest batch (i.e., non-clashing) model and $\sigma$ functions inducing a weak sequential (i.e., local preference-based) model. Finally, we identify preference functions inducing a novel family of sequential models with teaching complexity linear in the VC dimension of the hypothesis class: this is in contrast to the best known complexity result for the batch models which is quadratic in the VC dimension.