#### Binary Context Classification

So let me describe a game of binary context classification. There are two coins indexed by $X = \{ 0, 1 \}$. Each coin has a certain probability of heads $q_{1|x}$ chosen by the Adversary, and the Adversary also choses the probability of coin zero $q_0$. Player gets to observe $n$ IID training examples $(x, y)$ consisting of a choice of coin followed by the toss of that coin. Player then has to classify each coin into a ``heads coin'' $(\hat y = 1 | x)$ or ``tails coin'' $(\hat y = 0 | x)$. Player then pays the Adversary the expected regret per example, i.e., how many more prediction mistakes Player makes on average than the best pair of constants. Player will again use the strategy of empirical risk minimization on the training set and break ties randomly. Here is how the game is now played:- Referee announces training set size $n$.
- Adversary chooses $q_0$, $q_{1|0}$, and $q_{1|1}$.
- Referee generates a training set of size $n$ by repeating the following IID:
- Choose $x = 0$ when probability $q_0$; otherwise $x = 1$.
- Choose $y = \mathrm{heads}$ with probability $q_{1|x}$, otherwise $y = \mathrm{tails}$.
- Player minimizes empirical risk and reports $(\hat y | 0, \hat y | 1)$.
- Adversary collects expected regret per example from Player.

q_0 \Psi (q_0, q_{1|0}, n) + (1 - q_0) \Psi (1 - q_0, q_{1|1}, n)

\] where \[

\begin{aligned}

\Psi (s, q, n) &= \sum_{c=0}^n {n \choose c} s^c (1 - s)^{n - c} \Phi (q, c), \\

\Phi (q, n) &= \bigl|2 q - 1\bigr| \; p (\hat y \neq y^* | q; n).

\end{aligned}

\] Here $\Phi$ is the regret from the context-free game, which has to be averaged over the (now random) number of training examples associated with each coin.

There is an analytically demonstrable local optimum of the expected regret of the form $q^*_0 = 1/2$, $q^*_{1|0} = q^*_{1|1}$, which appears to be a global optimum: there are four of these corresponding to symmetry of the coins about $1/2$. In other words, best play for the Adversary is to choose each coin with equal probability, and choose the same intermediate bias for each coin. Here is the optimal choice of $q^*_{1|0} = q^*_{1|1} > 1/2$ for varying $n$ and the resulting value of the game to the Adversary,

#### Unbalanced Labels

Now I'll modify the game of binary context classification so that the Adversary must choose parameters consistent with $E[1_{y=1}] \geq \rho > 1/2$, i.e., Adversary must in aggregate favor heads over tails. Given the setup this implies $q_0 q_{1|0} + (1 - q_0) q_{1|1} \geq \rho > 1/2$. Here is how the game is now played:- Referee announces training set size $n$, minimum unconditional heads probability $\rho > 1/2$.
- Adversary chooses $q_0$, $q_{1|0}$, and $q_{1|1}$, such that $q_0 q_{1|0} + (1 - q_0) q_{1|1} \geq \rho$. Without loss of generality I will label the coins such that $q_{1|1} \geq q_{1|0}$.
- Referee generates a training set of size $n$ by repeating the following IID:
- Choose $x = 0$ when probability $q_0$; otherwise $x = 1$.
- Choose $y = \mathrm{heads}$ with probability $q_{1|x}$, otherwise $y = \mathrm{tails}$.
- Player minimizes empirical risk and reports $(\hat y | 0, \hat y | 1)$.
- Adversary collects expected regret per example from Player.

Consider first the effect of the constraint on the Adversary choices, assuming that Player is still doing empirical risk minimization unaware of the constraint. There are three regimes as far as I can tell:

- If $\rho$ is sufficiently close to 1/2, Adversary's optimal play is not affected (except that it must choose the mode corresponding to $q^*_{y|x} > 1/2$): treat each coin identically via $q^*_0 = 1/2$ and $q^*_{1|0} = q^*_{1|1} = \theta$.
- As $\rho$ increases past $\theta$, initially the best play is still to treat each coin identically via $q^*_0 = 1/2$ but to adjust $q^*_{1|0} = q^*_{1|1} = \rho$ to conform to the constraint.
- Eventually there is a phase transition and it becomes better to have $q^*_{1|1} \neq q^*_{1|0}$ with $q_0$ chosen to satisfy the constraint. Very quickly $q^*_{1|1} \to 1$, although it still serves the dual purposes of reducing the amount of training data associated with the other coin and allowing the other coin to remain near $1/2$. As $\rho$ increases $q^*_{1|1} = 1$, $q^*_{1|0} \to 1$, and $q^*_0 \to 0$.

In the $q_{1|1} = 1$ regime the chances that the Player would choose (``tails'', ``tails'') when doing unconstrained empirical risk minimization is so small that there is basically no impact on the game value.

#### Subsampling

Now I'll modify the game such that the training data is subsampled. Since the Adversary is forced to favor heads over tails in aggregate, we will subsample heads. Here is how the game is now played:- Referee announces training set size $n$, minimum unconditional heads probability $\rho > 1/2$.
- Player announces $w$.
- Adversary chooses $q_0$, $q_{1|0}$, and $q_{1|1}$, such that $q_0 q_{1|0} + (1 - q_0) q_{1|1} \geq \rho$. Without loss of generality I will label the coins such that $q_{1|1} \geq q_{1|0}$.
- Referee generates a training set by repeating the following IID until $n$ samples are accepted:
- Choose $x = 0$ when probability $q_0$; otherwise $x = 1$.
- Choose $y = \mathrm{heads}$ with probability $q_{1|x}$, otherwise $y = \mathrm{tails}$.
- If $y = \mathrm{heads}$, reject sample with probability $w$.
- Player minimizes importance-weighted empirical risk and reports $(\hat y | 0, \hat y | 1)$. Player minimizes over all hypothesis including (``tails'', ``tails'').
- Adversary collects expected regret per example from Player.

- It changes the distribution of contexts which occur in the training data, causing contexts which are more likely to produce a tails to occur more often. In particular the effective $q_0$ for the training set is, \[

\tilde q_0 (q_0, q_{1|0}, q_{1|1}, w) = \frac{q_0 (q_{1|0} w + 1 - q_{1|0})}{q_0 (q_{1|0} w + 1 - q_{1|0}) + (1 - q_0) (q_{1|1} w + 1 - q_{1|1})}.

\] This can actually cause a problem: if Player has no training data whatsoever for a particular context, the prediction is randomized for that context, and extreme subsampling when $q_{1|0} < 1$ and $q_{1|1} = 1$ would eliminate all training data for context 1, increasing regret. However an intermediate amount of subsampling will avoid ``wasting'' training data on the ``obvious'' $q_{1|1}=1$ context, since only one observation is required to get this context correct. - The distribution of heads versus tails within a context is modified, \[

\tilde q_{1|x} (q_{1|x}, w) = \frac{q_{1|x} w}{q_{1|x} w + (1 - q_{1|x})}.

\] - It changes the threshold for saying ``heads'' from seeing $n / 2$ heads in the training data to $n w / (1 + w)$. If particular, for $w < 1$, non-zero ties are broken in favor of heads. (If there are no training data for a particular context, the importance-weighted empirical risk is still the same for either choice so Player randomizes equally).

- When $\rho$ is close to 1/2, Player chooses a small amount of subsampling $w^* = 1 - \epsilon$, essentially to cause ties to break in favor of heads. Adversary responds by playing one heads coin and one tails coin to mitigate the tiebreaker effect.
- As $\rho$ increases it becomes too expensive to satisfy the constraint with one heads coin and one tails coin, so Adversary plays two identical heads coins, and Player gets the tiebreaker benefit.
- As $\rho$ further increases the Adversary sets $q_{1|1}=1$. At this point Player selects a $w^*$ which makes the Adversary indifferent to playing the $q^*_{1|0} < 1/2$ versus $q^*_{1|0} > 1/2$. (The plot switches between these two solutions seemingly randomly in this interval: so I selected the $q^*_{1|0} < 1/2$ points to make the graph more legible).
- As $\rho$ further increases, at some point Player switches to $w^* = 1/2 - \epsilon$. The Adversary responds by selecting $q^*_{1|0} > 1/2$. This choice of $w^*$ breaks 2/3rds ties in favor of heads.
- As $\rho$ further increases, at some point Player switches back to selecting a $w^*$ which makes the Adversary indifferent to playing the $q^*_{1|0} < 1/2$ versus $q^*_{1|0} > 1/2$. (Again, for legibility I selected the $q^*_{1|0} < 1/2$ points).
- As $\rho \uparrow 1$, $w^* \uparrow 1$, and the Adversary plays $q_{1|0} > 1/2$. The benefit of subsampling is again dominated by the tiebreaker effect.

#### Comments

Subsampling negatives does appear to help in this simplified setup. However, breaking non-zero ties (i.e., equal number of heads and tails training observations for a particular context) is the major component of the lift. This might be something fundamental, or it might be an artifact of the setup. There are some values of $\rho$ where the subsampling seems to be acting in a manner other than tiebreaking, but the amount of subsampling chosen is modest.In particular I do not see that $w^* \to 0$ as $\rho \to 1$. This is perhaps because whenever $q_{1|0} < 1$ and $q_{1|1} = 1$, as $w^* \to 0$ the chances of having no training data for context 1 goes to unity and then the randomization rule causes some regret. I might get different results if Player predicted heads for contexts without training data.

Overall this example does not provide support for the idea of aggressively subsampling data associated with the more frequently occurring label to reduce the size of a classification training set. Back to the drawing board!

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