Active learning via query synthesis and nearest neighbour search

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Active learning has received great interests from researchers due to its ability to reduce the amount of supervision required for effective learning. As the core component of active learning algorithms, query synthesis and pool-based sampling are two main scenarios of querying considered in the literature. Query synthesis features low querying time, but only has limited applications as the synthesized query might be unrecognizable to human oracle. As a result, most efforts have focused on pool-based sampling in recent years, although it is much more time-consuming. In this paper, we propose new strategies for a novel querying framework that combines query synthesis and pool-based sampling. It overcomes the limitation of query synthesis, and has the advantage of fast querying. The basic idea is to synthesize an instance close to the decision boundary using labelled data, and then select the real instance closest to the synthesized one as a query. For this purpose, we propose a synthesis strategy, which can synthesize instances close to the decision boundary and spreading along the decision boundary. Since the synthesis only depends on the relatively small labelled set, instead of evaluating the entire unlabelled set as many other active learning algorithms do, our method has the advantage of efficiency. In order to handle more complicated data and make our framework compatible with powerful kernel-based learners, we also extend our method to kernel version. Experiments on several real-world data sets show that our method has significant advantage on time complexity and similar performance compared to pool-based uncertainty sampling methods.




Wang, L., Hu, X., Yuan, B., & Lu, J. (2015). Active learning via query synthesis and nearest neighbour search. Neurocomputing, 147(1), 426–434.

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