NeurIPS 2018

Joint Active Feature Acquisition and Classification with Variable-Size Set Encoding

Hajin Shim, Sung Ju Hwang and Eunho Yang

We consider the problem of active feature acquisition, where we sequentially select the subset of features in order to achieve the maximum prediction performance in the most cost-effective way. In this work, we formulate this active feature acquisition problem as a reinforcement learning problem, and provide a novel framework for jointly learning both the RL agent and the classifier (environment). We also introduce a more systematic way of encoding subsets of features that can properly handle innate challenge with missing entries in active feature acquisition problems, that uses the orderless LSTM-based set encoding mechanism that readily fits in the joint learning framework. We evaluate our model on a carefully designed synthetic dataset for the active feature acquisition as well as several real datasets such as electric health record (EHR) datasets, on which it outperforms all baselines in terms of prediction performance as well feature acquisition cost.

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