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# Learning to Defer to Multiple Experts: Consistent Surrogate Losses, Confidence Calibration, and Conformal Ensembles

*Proceedings of The 26th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics*, PMLR 206:11415-11434, 2023.

#### Abstract

We study the statistical properties of learning to defer (L2D) to multiple experts. In particular, we address the open problems of deriving a consistent surrogate loss, confidence calibration, and principled ensembling of experts. Firstly, we derive two consistent surrogates—one based on a softmax parameterization, the other on a one-vs-all (OvA) parameterization—that are analogous to the single expert losses proposed by Mozannar and Sontag (2020) and Verma and Nalisnick (2022), respectively. We then study the frameworks’ ability to estimate $P( m_j = y | x )$, the probability that the $j$th expert will correctly predict the label for $x$. Theory shows the softmax-based loss causes mis-calibration to propagate between the estimates while the OvA-based loss does not (though in practice, we find there are trade offs). Lastly, we propose a conformal inference technique that chooses a subset of experts to query when the system defers. We perform empirical validation on tasks for galaxy, skin lesion, and hate speech classification.