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A Neyman-Pearson approach to statistical learning

By Clayton Scott, Robert Nowak and Senior Member


Abstract—The Neyman–Pearson (NP) approach to hypothesis testing is useful in situations where different types of error have different consequences or a priori probabilities are unknown. For any H, the NP lemma specifies the most powerful test of size, but assumes the distributions for each hypothesis are known or (in some cases) the likelihood ratio is monotonic in an unknown parameter. This paper investigates an extension of NP theory to situations in which one has no knowledge of the underlying distributions except for a collection of independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) training examples from each hypothesis. Building on a “fundamental lemma ” of Cannon et al., we demonstrate that several concepts from statistical learning theory have counterparts in the NP context. Specifically, we consider constrained versions of empirical risk minimization (NP-ERM) and structural risk minimization (NP-SRM), and prove performance guarantees for both. General conditions are given under which NP-SRM leads to strong universal consistency. We also apply NP-SRM to (dyadic) decision trees to derive rates of convergence. Finally, we present explicit algorithms to implement NP-SRM for histograms and dyadic decision trees. Index Terms—Generalization error bounds, Neyman–Pearson (NP) classification, statistical learning theory

Year: 2005
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