Beyond Pinball Loss: Quantile Methods for Calibrated Uncertainty Quantification

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

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Authors

Youngseog Chung, Willie Neiswanger, Ian Char, Jeff Schneider

Abstract

Among the many ways of quantifying uncertainty in a regression setting, specifying the full quantile function is attractive, as quantiles are amenable to interpretation and evaluation. A model that predicts the true conditional quantiles for each input, at all quantile levels, presents a correct and efficient representation of the underlying uncertainty. To achieve this, many current quantile-based methods focus on optimizing the pinball loss. However, this loss restricts the scope of applicable regression models, limits the ability to target many desirable properties (e.g. calibration, sharpness, centered intervals), and may produce poor conditional quantiles. In this work, we develop new quantile methods that address these shortcomings. In particular, we propose methods that can apply to any class of regression model, select an explicit balance between calibration and sharpness, optimize for calibration of centered intervals, and produce more accurate conditional quantiles. We provide a thorough experimental evaluation of our methods, which includes a high dimensional uncertainty quantification task in nuclear fusion.