Forster Decomposition and Learning Halfspaces with Noise

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Authors

Ilias Diakonikolas, Daniel Kane, Christos Tzamos

Abstract

A Forster transform is an operation that turns a multivariate distribution into one with good anti-concentration properties. While a Forster transform does not always exist, we show that any distribution can be efficiently decomposed as a disjoint mixture of few distributions for which a Forster transform exists and can be computed efficiently. As the main application of this result, we obtain the first polynomial-time algorithm for distribution-independent PAC learning of halfspaces in the Massart noise model with strongly polynomial sample complexity, i.e., independent of the bit complexity of the examples. Previous algorithms for this learning problem incurred sample complexity scaling polynomially with the bit complexity, even though such a dependence is not information-theoretically necessary.