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Abstract:We consider the problem of evaluating forecasts of binary events whose predictions are consumed by rational agents who take an action in response to a prediction, but whose utility is unknown to the forecaster. We show that optimizing forecasts for a single scoring rule (e.g., the Brier score) cannot guarantee low regret for all possible agents. In contrast, forecasts that are well-calibrated guarantee that all agents incur sublinear regret. However, calibration is not a necessary criterion here (it is possible for miscalibrated forecasts to provide good regret guarantees for all possible agents), and calibrated forecasting procedures have provably worse convergence rates than forecasting procedures targeting a single scoring rule. Motivated by this, we present a new metric for evaluating forecasts that we call U-calibration, equal to the maximal regret of the sequence of forecasts when evaluated under any bounded scoring rule. We show that sublinear U-calibration error is a necessary and sufficient condition for all agents to achieve sublinear regret guarantees. We additionally demonstrate how to compute the U-calibration error efficiently and provide an online algorithm that achieves $O(\sqrt{T})$ U-calibration error (on par with optimal rates for optimizing for a single scoring rule, and bypassing lower bounds for the traditionally calibrated learning procedures). Finally, we discuss generalizations to the multiclass prediction setting.

* Accepted for presentation at the Conference on Learning Theory (COLT)
2023