Collaboration methods for distributed machine-learning algorithms involve the specification of communication protocols for the learners, which can query other learners and/or broadcast their findings preemptively. Each learner incorporates information from its neighbors into its own training set, and they are thereby able to “boot-strap” each other to higher performance.
Each learner resides at a different node in the sensor network and makes observations (collects data) independently of the other learners. After being “seeded” with an initial labeled training set, each learner proceeds to learn in an iterative fashion. New data is collected and classified. The learner can then either broadcast its most confident classifications for use by other learners, or can query neighbors for their classifications of its least confident items. As such, collaborative learning combines elements of both passive (broadcast) and active (query) learning. It also uses ideas from ensemble learning to combine the multiple responses to a given query into a single useful label.
This approach has been evaluated against current non-collaborative alternatives, including training a single classifier and deploying it at all nodes with no further learning possible, and permitting learners to learn from their own most confident judgments, absent interaction with their neighbors. On several data sets, it has been consistently found that active collaboration is the best strategy for a distributed learner network. The main advantages include the ability for learning to take place autonomously by collaboration rather than by requiring intervention from an oracle (usually human), and also the ability to learn in a distributed environment, permitting decisions to be made in situ and to yield faster response time.