Uncertainty-aware Active Learning for Optimal Bayesian Classifier

Guang Zhao · Edward Dougherty · Byung-Jun Yoon · Francis Alexander · Xiaoning Qian

Keywords: [ Active learning ] [ Bayesian classification ]


For pool-based active learning, in each iteration a candidate training sample is chosen for labeling by optimizing an acquisition function. In Bayesian classification, expected Loss Reduction~(ELR) methods maximize the expected reduction in the classification error given a new labeled candidate based on a one-step-look-ahead strategy. ELR is the optimal strategy with a single query; however, since such myopic strategies cannot identify the long-term effect of a query on the classification error, ELR may get stuck before reaching the optimal classifier. In this paper, inspired by the mean objective cost of uncertainty (MOCU), a metric quantifying the uncertainty directly affecting the classification error, we propose an acquisition function based on a weighted form of MOCU. Similar to ELR, the proposed method focuses on the reduction of the uncertainty that pertains to the classification error. But unlike any other existing scheme, it provides the critical advantage that the resulting Bayesian active learning algorithm guarantees convergence to the optimal classifier of the true model. We demonstrate its performance with both synthetic and real-world datasets.

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