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Distinguished Speaker Seminar – Thursday 29th April 2021

29 Apr - 30 Apr 21

Speaker:   Professor Sara Van de Geer, ETH Zürich

Title:           On classification with small Bayes error and the max-margin classifier

Abstract:   This is joint work with Geoffrey Chinot, Felix Kuchelmeister and Matthias Löffler.

We consider the classification problem where one observes a design matrix X ∈ Rn×p and a binary response variable Y = sign(* +ξ) ∈ {±1}n. Here β* ∈ Rp is an vector of unknown coefficients with llβ*ll2= 1 and ξ ∼ N(0, σ2I) ∈ Rn is an unobservable noise vector independent of X. We will present some theoretical results on the misclassification error of a class of estimators β of β* which are based on L1-regularization or L1-interpolation. The emphasis in this talk will be on the interpolating estimator. It is observed in empirical studies that classification algorithms achieving zero training error can perform well in test sets. We aim at contributing to a theoretical understanding of this phenomenon in the high-dimensional situation (i.e. p >> n). To allow for small test error we focus on the case where σ2 is small. In the special setting of i.i.d. Gaussian design, we examine the minimum L1-norm interpolator or max-margin classifier and its rate of convergence under L1-sparsity assumptions. Related is the noisy one-bit compressed sensing problem, where we apply the algorithm of Plan and Vershynin [2013] and (re-)establish rates under L0– and L1-sparsity conditions.


Y. Plan and R. Vershynin. One-bit compressed sensing by linear programming

Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics, 66(8):1275–1297, 2013.

Bio:             Sara van de Geer is since 2005 full professor at the ETH Zürich. Her main areas of research are empirical process theory, statistical learning theory, and nonparametric and high-dimensional statistics.

She is past-president of the Bernoulli Society. She is an associate editor of the journals Electronic Journal of Statistics, Information and Inference, Journal of the European Mathematical Society, Mathematical Statistics and Learning and Statistics Surveys. She is a correspondent of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, Member of Leopoldina, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher and Member of Academia Europaea. She was invited speaker at the International Conference of Mathematicians in 2010.


Please note:  This Seminar will be hosted on Zoom.  Please complete the short form below to receive the joining instructions (for Oxford University staff and students only).

Distinguished Speaker Seminar 29th April 2021

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