Fast Rates for General Unbounded Loss Functions: From ERM to Generalized Bayes

Peter D. Grünwald, Nishant A. Mehta.

Year: 2020, Volume: 21, Issue: 56, Pages: 1−80


We present new excess risk bounds for general unbounded loss functions including log loss and squared loss, where the distribution of the losses may be heavy-tailed. The bounds hold for general estimators, but they are optimized when applied to $\eta$-generalized Bayesian, MDL, and empirical risk minimization estimators. In the case of log loss, the bounds imply convergence rates for generalized Bayesian inference under misspecification in terms of a generalization of the Hellinger metric as long as the learning rate $\eta$ is set correctly. For general loss functions, our bounds rely on two separate conditions: the $v$-GRIP (generalized reversed information projection) conditions, which control the lower tail of the excess loss; and the newly introduced witness condition, which controls the upper tail. The parameter $v$ in the $v$-GRIP conditions determines the achievable rate and is akin to the exponent in the Tsybakov margin condition and the Bernstein condition for bounded losses, which the $v$-GRIP conditions generalize; favorable $v$ in combination with small model complexity leads to $\tilde{O}(1/n)$ rates. The witness condition allows us to connect the excess risk to an 'annealed' version thereof, by which we generalize several previous results connecting Hellinger and Rényi divergence to KL divergence.