A Theory of Label Propagation for Subpopulation Shift

Tianle Cai, Ruiqi Gao, Jason D. Lee, Qi Lei

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


One of the central problems in machine learning is domain adaptation. Unlike past theoretical work, we consider a new model for subpopulation shift in the input or representation space. In this work, we propose a provably effective framework for domain adaptation based on label propagation. In our analysis, we use a simple but realistic expansion assumption, proposed in Wei et al. (2021). Using a teacher classifier trained on the source domain, our algorithm not only propagates to the target domain but also improves upon the teacher. By leveraging existing generalization bounds, we also obtain end-to-end finite-sample guarantees on the entire algorithm. In addition, we extend our theoretical framework to a more general setting of source-to-target transfer based on a third unlabeled dataset, which can be easily applied in various learning scenarios. Inspired by our theory, we adapt consistency-based semi-supervised learning methods to domain adaptation settings and gain significant improvements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning, ICML 2021
PublisherML Research Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781713845065
StatePublished - 2021
Event38th International Conference on Machine Learning, ICML 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 18 2021Jul 24 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of Machine Learning Research
ISSN (Electronic)2640-3498


Conference38th International Conference on Machine Learning, ICML 2021
CityVirtual, Online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Statistics and Probability


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