On Characterizing the Trade-off in Invariant Representation Learning

Published: 22 Dec 2022, Last Modified: 02 Apr 2024Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Event Certifications: iclr.cc/ICLR/2024/Journal_Track
Abstract: Many applications of representation learning, such as privacy preservation, algorithmic fairness, and domain adaptation, desire explicit control over semantic information being discarded. This goal is formulated as satisfying two objectives: maximizing utility for predicting a target attribute while simultaneously being invariant (independent) to a known semantic attribute. Solutions to invariant representation learning (IRepL) problems lead to a trade-off between utility and invariance when they are competing. While existing works study bounds on this trade-off, two questions remain outstanding: 1) What is the exact trade-off between utility and invariance? and 2) What are the encoders (mapping the data to a representation) that achieve the trade-off, and how can we estimate it from training data? This paper addresses these questions for IRepLs in reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHS)s. Under the assumption that the distribution of a low-dimensional projection of high-dimensional data is approximately normal, we derive a closed-form solution for the global optima of the underlying optimization problem for encoders in RKHSs. This yields closed formulae for a near-optimal trade-off, corresponding optimal representation dimensionality, and the corresponding encoder(s). We also numerically quantify the trade-off on representative problems and compare them to those achieved by baseline IRepL algorithms.
Certifications: Featured Certification
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Changes Since Last Submission: All of the reviewer's suggested changes (in blue) are applied. Moreover, some typos have been corrected too.
Video: https://youtu.be/bjeLIWoiTT8
Code: https://github.com/human-analysis/tradeoff-invariant-representation-learning
Assigned Action Editor: ~Roman_Garnett1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 458