Pentina, Anastasia

Theoretical foundations of multi-task and lifelong learning - IST Austria 2016

Thesis

Acknowledgments Abstract 1 Introduction 2 Background 3 Multi-task learning 4 Lifelong learning 5 Future directions A Proofs of theorems in chapter 3 B Proofs of theorems in chapter 4 C Supplementary lemmas

Traditionally machine learning has been focusing on the problem of solving a single task in isolation. While being quite well understood, this approach disregards an important aspect of human learning: when facing a new problem, humans are able to exploit knowledge acquired from previously learned tasks. Intuitively, access to several problems simultaneously or sequentially could also be advantageous for a machine learning system, especially if these tasks are closely related. Indeed, results of many empirical studies have provided justification for this intuition. However, theoretical justifications of this idea are rather limited. The focus of this thesis is to expand the understanding of potential benefits of information transfer between several related learning problems. We provide theoretical analysis for three scenarios of multi-task learning - multiple kernel learning, sequential learning and active task selection. We also provide a PAC-Bayesian perspective on lifelong learning and investigate how the task generation process influences the generalization guarantees in this scenario. In addition, we show how some of the obtained theoretical results can be used to derive principled multi-task and lifelong learning algorithms and illustrate their performance on various synthetic and real-world datasets.

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