Improved Frequency Estimation Algorithms with and without Predictions

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Anders Aamand, Justin Chen, Huy Nguyen, Sandeep Silwal, Ali Vakilian


Estimating frequencies of elements appearing in a data stream is a key task in large-scale data analysis. Popular sketching approaches to this problem (e.g., CountMin and CountSketch) come with worst-case guarantees that probabilistically bound the error of the estimated frequencies for any possible input. The work of Hsu et al.~(2019) introduced the idea of using machine learning to tailor sketching algorithms to the specific data distribution they are being run on. In particular, their learning-augmented frequency estimation algorithm uses a learned heavy-hitter oracle which predicts which elements will appear many times in the stream. We give a novel algorithm, which in some parameter regimes, already theoretically outperforms the learning based algorithm of Hsu et al. without the use of any predictions. Augmenting our algorithm with heavy-hitter predictions further reduces the error and improves upon the state of the art. Empirically, our algorithms achieve superior performance in all experiments compared to prior approaches.