Maria-Florina F. Balcan, Dravyansh Sharma
We consider a novel data driven approach for designing semi-supervised learning algorithms that can effectively learn with only a small number of labeled examples. We focus on graph-based techniques, where the unlabeled examples are connected in a graph under the implicit assumption that similar nodes likely have similar labels. Over the past two decades, several elegant graph-based semi-supervised learning algorithms for inferring the labels of the unlabeled examples given the graph and a few labeled examples have been proposed. However, the problem of how to create the graph (which impacts the practical usefulness of these methods significantly) has been relegated to heuristics and domain-specific art, and no general principles have been proposed. In this work we present a novel data driven approach for learning the graph and provide strong formal guarantees in both the distributional and online learning formalizations. We show how to leverage problem instances coming from an underlying problem domain to learn the graph hyperparameters for commonly used parametric families of graphs that provably perform well on new instances from the same domain. We obtain low regret and efficient algorithms in the online setting, and generalization guarantees in the distributional setting. We also show how to combine several very different similarity metrics and learn multiple hyperparameters, our results hold for large classes of problems. We expect some of the tools and techniques we develop along the way to be of independent interest, for data driven algorithms more generally.