# Distribution-Independent Reliable Learning

V. Kanade and J. Thaler

** Abstract: **

We study several questions in the * reliable agnostic learning * framework of
Kalai et al. (2009), which captures learning tasks in which one type of error is costlier than other types.
A positive reliable classifier is one that makes no false
positive errors. The goal in the * positive reliable * agnostic framework is
to output a hypothesis with the following properties: (i) its false positive
error rate is at most $\epsilon$, (ii) its false negative error rate is at most
$\epsilon$ more than that of the best positive reliable classifier from the
class. A closely related notion is * fully reliable * agnostic learning,
which considers * partial classifiers * that are allowed to predict ``unknown'' on
some inputs. The best fully reliable partial classifier is one that
makes no errors and minimizes the probability of predicting ``unknown'', and the
goal in fully reliable learning is to output a hypothesis that is almost as good
as the best fully reliable partial classifier from a class.

For distribution-independent learning, the best known algorithms for PAC
learning typically utilize polynomial threshold representations, while the state
of the art agnostic learning algorithms use point-wise polynomial
approximations. We show that * one-sided polynomial approximations*, an
intermediate notion between polynomial threshold representations and point-wise
polynomial approximations, suffice for learning in the reliable agnostic
settings. We then show that majorities can be fully reliably learned and
disjunctions of majorities can be positive reliably learned, through
constructions of appropriate one-sided polynomial approximations. Our fully
reliable algorithm for majorities provides the first evidence that fully
reliable learning may be strictly easier than agnostic learning. Our algorithms
also satisfy strong attribute-efficiency properties, and in many cases they
provide smooth tradeoffs between sample complexity and running time.
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