Luiz Chamon, Alejandro Ribeiro
As learning solutions reach critical applications in social, industrial, and medical domains, the need to curtail their behavior has become paramount. There is now ample evidence that without explicit tailoring, learning can lead to biased, unsafe, and prejudiced solutions. To tackle these problems, we develop a generalization theory of constrained learning based on the probably approximately correct (PAC) learning framework. In particular, we show that imposing requirements does not make a learning problem harder in the sense that any PAC learnable class is also PAC constrained learnable using a constrained counterpart of the empirical risk minimization (ERM) rule. For typical parametrized models, however, this learner involves solving a constrained non-convex optimization program for which even obtaining a feasible solution is challenging. To overcome this issue, we prove that under mild conditions the empirical dual problem of constrained learning is also a PAC constrained learner that now leads to a practical constrained learning algorithm based solely on solving unconstrained problems. We analyze the generalization properties of this solution and use it to illustrate how constrained learning can address problems in fair and robust classification.