Weakly Supervised Learning


       Weakly Supervised Learning

Weakly supervised learning is a type of machine learning paradigm where the training data is annotated with a noisy, limited, or imprecise source of supervision. Unlike traditional supervised learning, where each training example is paired with an exact label, weakly supervised learning works with various forms of weaker annotation. This can be especially useful when it is too expensive or time-consuming to obtain a fully labeled dataset.

Types of Weak Supervision

  1. Label Noise: Some of the labels are incorrect.
  2. Incomplete Labels: Not every instance is labeled.
  3. Coarse Labels: Labels are not as fine-grained as one might hope. For example, tagging an entire paragraph as positive or negative sentiment without specifying which sentence contributed to that sentiment.
  4. Multi-Instance Learning: Labels are available at a bag level rather than individual instance level.
  5. Crowdsourcing: Labels are obtained from non-expert annotators.


  1. Cost-Efficiency: Less expensive than fully supervised learning.
  2. Scalability: Easier to obtain more training data.
  3. Generalization: Sometimes, the model can generalize better from weak labels.


  1. Quality: The trained models are generally less accurate.
  2. Complexity: Requires more complex learning algorithms to handle noise and uncertainty.


  1. Image Classification: When it’s expensive to label every object in an image.
  2. Text Classification: For example, sentiment analysis when only partial labels are available.
  3. Healthcare: Identifying diseases based on partially labeled medical data.
  4. Object Tracking in Videos: When only a few frames are labeled.


  • Data Programming: Create labeling functions to automatically label data.
  • Multi-Instance Learning: Train on bag-level labels and infer instance-level labels.
  • Transfer Learning: Utilize a pre-trained model to assist in the learning process.

Weakly supervised learning has become increasingly popular as it offers a middle ground between unsupervised and supervised learning, enabling the development of models in scenarios where it is impractical to obtain a fully labeled dataset.

Please note that while using weakly supervised learning might reduce the amount of labeling required, the quality of the training data is still crucial. Poor-quality weak labels could result in a model that doesn’t perform well.

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