Self-Directed Learning and Its Relation to the VC-Dimension and to Teacher-Directed Learning

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We study the self-directed (SD) learning model. In this model a learner chooses examples, guesses their classification and receives immediate feedback indicating the correctness of its guesses. We consider several fundamental questions concerning this model: the parameters of a task that determine the cost of learning, the computational complexity of a student, and the relationship between this model and the teacher-directed (TD) learning model. We answer the open problem of relating the cost of self-directed learning to the VC-dimension by showing that no such relation exists. Furthermore, we refute the conjecture that for the intersection-closed case, the cost of self-directed learning is bounded by the VC-dimension. We also show that the cost of SD learning may be arbitrarily higher that that of TD learning.

Finally, we discuss the number of queries needed for learning in this model and its relationship to the number of mistakes the student incurs. We prove a trade-off formula showing that an algorithm that makes fewer queries throughout its learning process, necessarily suffers a higher number of mistakes.

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