## AbstractSupervised learning deals with the inference of a distribution over an output or label space Y conditioned on points in an observation space X, given a training dataset D of pairs in X*Y. However, in a lot of applications of interest, acquisition of large amounts of observations is easy, while the process of generating labels is time-consuming or costly. One way to deal with this problem is active learning, where points to be labelled are selected with the aim of creating a model with better performance than that of an model trained on an equal number of randomly sampled points. Furthermore, given a fixed set of labelled examples, one may use semi-supervised learning methods to discover regularities in the data using the unlabelled examples. In this paper, we instead propose to deal with the labelling cost directly: The learning goal is defined as the minimisation of a cost which is a function of the expected model performance and the total cost of the labels used. This allows the development of general strategies and specific algorithms for (a) optimal stopping, where the expected cost dictates whether label acquisition should continue (b) empirical evaluation, where the cost is used as a performance metric for a given combination of inference, stopping and sampling methods. Though the main focus of the paper is optimal stopping, we also aim to provide the background for further developments and discussion in the related field of active learning.
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