List Online Classification
Proceedings of Thirty Sixth Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 195:1885-1913, 2023.
We study multiclass online prediction where the learner can predict using a list of multiple labels (as opposed to just one label in the traditional setting). We characterize learnability in this model using the $b$-ary Littlestone dimension. This dimension is a variation of the classical Littlestone dimension with the difference that binary mistake trees are replaced with $(k+1)$-ary mistake trees, where $k$ is the number of labels in the list. In the agnostic setting, we explore different scenarios depending on whether the comparator class consists of single-labeled or multi-labeled functions and its tradeoff with the size of the lists the algorithm uses. We find that it is possible to achieve negative regret in some cases and provide a complete characterization of when this is possible.As part of our work, we adapt classical algorithms such as Littlestone’s SOA and Rosenblatt’s Perceptron to predict using lists of labels. We also establish combinatorial results for list-learnable classes, including an online version of the Sauer-Shelah-Perles Lemma. We state our results within the framework of pattern classes — a generalization of hypothesis classes which can represent adaptive hypotheses (i.e. functions with memory), and model data-dependent assumptions such as linear classification with margin.