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# Self-Directed Linear Classification

*Proceedings of Thirty Sixth Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 195:2919-2947, 2023.

#### Abstract

In online classification, a learner is presented with a sequence of examples and aims to predict their labels in an online fashion so as to minimize the total number of mistakes. In the self-directed variant, the learner knows in advance the pool of examples and can adaptively choose the order in which predictions are made. Here we study the power of choosing the prediction order and establish the first strong separation between worst-order and random-order learning for the fundamental task of linear classification. Prior to our work, such a separation was known only for very restricted concept classes, e.g., one-dimensional thresholds or axis-aligned rectangles.We present two main results.If $X$ is a dataset of $n$ points drawn uniformly at random from the $d$-dimensional unit sphere, we design an efficient self-directed learner thatmakes $O(d \log \log(n))$ mistakes and classifies the entire dataset.If $X$ is an arbitrary $d$-dimensional dataset of size $n$, we design an efficient self-directed learner that predicts the labels of $99%$ of the points in $X$ with mistake bound independent of $n$. In contrast, under a worst- or random-ordering, the number of mistakes must be at least $\Omega(d \log n)$, even when the points are drawn uniformly from the unit sphere and the learner only needs to predict the labels for $1%$ of them.