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Abstract:We consider the problem of \emph{pruning} a classification tree, that is, selecting a suitable subtree that balances bias and variance, in common situations with inhomogeneous training data. Namely, assuming access to mostly data from a distribution $P_{X, Y}$, but little data from a desired distribution $Q_{X, Y}$ with different $X$-marginals, we present the first efficient procedure for optimal pruning in such situations, when cross-validation and other penalized variants are grossly inadequate. Optimality is derived with respect to a notion of \emph{average discrepancy} $P_{X} \to Q_{X}$ (averaged over $X$ space) which significantly relaxes a recent notion -- termed \emph{transfer-exponent} -- shown to tightly capture the limits of classification under such a distribution shift. Our relaxed notion can be viewed as a measure of \emph{relative dimension} between distributions, as it relates to existing notions of information such as the Minkowski and Renyi dimensions.

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