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Optimal Strategies for Reject Option Classifiers

Vojtech Franc, Daniel Prusa, Vaclav Voracek; 24(11):1−49, 2023.


In classification with a reject option, the classifier is allowed in uncertain cases to abstain from prediction. The classical cost-based model of a reject option classifier requires the rejection cost to be defined explicitly. The alternative bounded-improvement model and the bounded-abstention model avoid the notion of the reject cost. The bounded-improvement model seeks a classifier with a guaranteed selective risk and maximal cover. The bounded-abstention model seeks a classifier with guaranteed cover and minimal selective risk. We prove that despite their different formulations the three rejection models lead to the same prediction strategy: the Bayes classifier endowed with a randomized Bayes selection function. We define the notion of a proper uncertainty score as a scalar summary of the prediction uncertainty sufficient to construct the randomized Bayes selection function. We propose two algorithms to learn the proper uncertainty score from examples for an arbitrary black-box classifier. We prove that both algorithms provide Fisher consistent estimates of the proper uncertainty score and demonstrate their efficiency in different prediction problems, including classification, ordinal regression, and structured output classification.

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