Date of Award

Spring 4-2016

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Machine Learning


Reid Simmons


As the availability of unstructured data on the web continues to increase, it is becoming increasingly necessary to develop machine learning methods that rely less on human annotated training data. In this thesis, we present methods for learning from weakly labeled data. We present a unifying framework to understand weakly labeled data in terms of bias and noise and identify methods that are well suited to learning from certain types of weak labels. To compensate for the tremendous sizes of weakly labeled datasets, we leverage computationally efficient and statistically consistent spectral methods. Using these methods, we present results from four diverse, real-world applications coupled with a unifying simulation environment. This allows us to make general observations that would not be apparent when examining any one application on its own. These contributions allow us to significantly improve prediction when labeled data is available, and they also make learning tractable when the cost of acquiring annotated data is prohibitively high.