Learning Classifiers on Positive and Unlabeled Data with Policy Gradient

Author: Tianyu Li, Chien-Chih Wang, Yukun Ma, Patricia Ortal, Qifang Zhao, Bjorn Stenger, Yu Hirate


Existing algorithms aiming to learn a binary classifier from positive (P) and unlabeled (U) data require estimating the class prior or label noise ahead of building a classification model. However, the estimation and classifier learning are normally conducted in a pipeline instead of being jointly optimized. In this paper, we propose to alternatively train the two steps using reinforcement learning. Our proposal adopts a policy network to adaptively make assumptions on the labels of unlabeled data, while a classifier is built upon the output of the policy network and provides rewards to learn a better policy. The dynamic and interactive training between the policy maker and the classifier can exploit the unlabeled data in a more effective manner and yield a significant improvement in terms of classification performance. Furthermore, we present two different approaches to represent the actions taken by the policy. The first approach considers continuous actions as soft labels, while the other uses discrete actions as hard assignment of labels for unlabeled examples. We validate the effectiveness of the proposed method on two public benchmark datasets as well as one ecommerce dataset. The results show that the proposed method is able to consistently outperform state-of-the-art methods in
various settings.Index Terms—Classification, Semi-supervised Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Deep Learning.

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