The key idea behind active learning is that a machine learning algorithm can achieve greater accuracy with fewer training labels if it is allowed to choose the data from which it learns. An active learner may pose queries, usually in the form of unlabeled data instances to be labeled by an oracle (e.g., a human annotator). Active learning is well-motivated in many modern machine learning problems, where unlabeled data may be abundant or easily obtained, but labels are difficult, time-consuming, or expensive to obtain.
This report provides a general introduction to active learning and a survey of the literature. This includes a discussion of the scenarios in which queries can be formulated, and an overview of the query strategy frameworks proposed in the literature to date. An analysis of the empirical and theoretical evidence for successful active learning, a summary of problem setting variants and practical issues, and a discussion of related topics in machine learning research are also presented.
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