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# The Dimension of Self-Directed Learning

*Proceedings of The 35th International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory*, PMLR 237:544-573, 2024.

#### Abstract

Understanding the self-directed learning complexity has been an important problem that has captured the attention of the online learning theory community since the early 1990s. Within this framework, the learner is allowed to adaptively choose its next data point in making predictions unlike the setting in adversarial online learning. In this paper, we study the self-directed learning complexity in both the binary and multi-class settings, and we develop a dimension, namely $SDdim$, that exactly characterizes the self-directed learning mistake-bound for any concept class. The intuition behind $SDdim$ can be understood as a two-player game called the “labelling game". Armed with this two-player game, we calculate $SDdim$ on a whole host of examples with notable results on axis-aligned rectangles, VC dimension $1$ classes, and linear separators. We demonstrate several learnability gaps with a central focus between self-directed learning and offline sequence learning models that include either the best or worst ordering. Finally, we extend our analysis to the self-directed binary agnostic setting where we derive upper and lower bounds.