Fall 2013

Moment-Matching Polynomials

Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 10:15 am11:00 am

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We give a new framework for proving the existence of low-degree, polynomial approximators for Boolean functions with respect to broad classes of non-product distributions. Our proofs do not rely on the dominant Fourier-based methods from computational learning theory. Instead, we derive our approximations using techniques related to the classical method of moments.

The main new application is a polynomial-time algorithm for agnostically learning any function of a constant number of halfspaces (i.e., depth-2 neural networks) with respect to any log-concave distribution on R^n (for any constant accuracy parameter). This result was not known even for the case of PAC learning the intersection of two halfspaces.

Additionally, we show that in the smoothed-analysis setting, the above results hold with respect to any distribution that obeys a sub-exponential tail bound (i.e., sub-exponential or sub-gaussian densities).

Joint work with Raghu Meka.