Epistemic Uncertainty Sampling.

Vu-Linh Nguyen, Sébastien Destercke, Eyke Hüllermeier

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

14 Citations (Scopus)


Various strategies for active learning have been proposed in the machine learning literature. In uncertainty sampling, which is among the most popular approaches, the active learner sequentially queries the label of those instances for which its current prediction is maximally uncertain. The predictions as well as the measures used to quantify the degree of uncertainty, such as entropy, are almost exclusively of a probabilistic nature. In this paper, we advocate a distinction between two different types of uncertainty, referred to as epistemic and aleatoric, in the context of active learning. Roughly speaking, these notions capture the reducible and the irreducible part of the total uncertainty in a prediction, respectively. We conjecture that, in uncertainty sampling, the usefulness of an instance is better reflected by its epistemic than by its aleatoric uncertainty. This leads us to suggest the principle of “epistemic uncertainty sampling”, which we instantiate by means of a concrete approach for measuring epistemic and aleatoric uncertainty. In experimental studies, epistemic uncertainty sampling does indeed show promising performance.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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  • Active learning
  • Aleatoric uncertainty
  • Epistemic uncertainty
  • Uncertainty sampling


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