The limits of distribution-free conditional predictive inference

12 Mar 2019  ·  Rina Foygel Barber, Emmanuel J. Candès, Aaditya Ramdas, Ryan J. Tibshirani ·

We consider the problem of distribution-free predictive inference, with the goal of producing predictive coverage guarantees that hold conditionally rather than marginally. Existing methods such as conformal prediction offer marginal coverage guarantees, where predictive coverage holds on average over all possible test points, but this is not sufficient for many practical applications where we would like to know that our predictions are valid for a given individual, not merely on average over a population. On the other hand, exact conditional inference guarantees are known to be impossible without imposing assumptions on the underlying distribution. In this work we aim to explore the space in between these two, and examine what types of relaxations of the conditional coverage property would alleviate some of the practical concerns with marginal coverage guarantees while still being possible to achieve in a distribution-free setting.

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