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AMCS Colloquium

Friday, October 7, 2022 - 1:45pm

Yuan Yao

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


University of Pennsylvania

PCPE 200

Abstract: Robust learning under Huber's contamination model has become an important topic in statistics and theoretical computer science. Statistically optimal procedures such as Tukey's median and other estimators based on depth functions are impractical because of their computational intractability. In this talk, we present an intriguing connection between f-GANs and various depth functions through the lens of f-Learning. Similar to the derivation of f-GANs, we show that these depth functions that lead to statistically optimal robust estimators can all be viewed as variational lower bounds of the total variation distance in the framework of f-Learning. This connection opens the door of computing robust estimators using tools developed for training GANs. In particular, we show in both theory and experiments that some appropriate structures of discriminator networks with hidden layers in GANs lead to statistically optimal robust location estimators for both Gaussian distribution and general elliptical distributions where first moment may not exist. Some applications are discussed on robust PCA in financial data analysis and robust denoising of Cryo-EM images. 


Short Bio: Yuan YAO is currently Professor of Mathematics in HKUST. Dr. Yao received his PhD in Mathematics from UC Berkeley with Prof. Steve Smale and worked in Stanford University and Peking University before joining HKUST in 2016. His main research interests lie in mathematics of data science and machine learning, with applications in computational biology and information technology.