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# Bagging is an Optimal PAC Learner

*Proceedings of Thirty Sixth Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 195:450-468, 2023.

#### Abstract

Determining the optimal sample complexity of PAC learning in the realizable setting was a central open problem in learning theory for decades. Finally, the seminal work by Hanneke (2016) gave an algorithm with a provably optimal sample complexity. His algorithm is based on a careful and structured sub-sampling of the training data and then returning a majority vote among hypotheses trained on each of the sub-samples. While being a very exciting theoretical result, it has not had much impact in practice, in part due to inefficiency, since it constructs a polynomial number of sub-samples of the training data, each of linear size.In this work, we prove the surprising result that the practical and classic heuristic \emph{bagging} (a.k.a. bootstrap aggregation), due to Breiman (1996), is in fact also an optimal PAC learner. Bagging pre-dates Hanneke’s algorithm by twenty years and is taught in most undergraduate machine learning courses. Moreover, we show that it only requires a logarithmic number of sub-samples to reach optimality.