# Lossless Transformations and Excess Risk Bounds in Statistical Inference

We study the excess minimum risk in statistical inference, defined as the difference between the minimum expected loss in estimating a random variable from an observed feature vector and the minimum expected loss in estimating the same random variable from a transformation (statistic) of the feature vector. After characterizing lossless transformations, i.e., transformations for which the excess risk is zero for all loss functions, we construct a partitioning test statistic for the hypothesis that a given transformation is lossless and show that for i.i.d. data the test is strongly consistent. More generally, we develop information-theoretic upper bounds on the excess risk that uniformly hold over fairly general classes of loss functions. Based on these bounds, we introduce the notion of a delta-lossless transformation and give sufficient conditions for a given transformation to be universally delta-lossless. Applications to classification, nonparametric regression, portfolio strategies, information bottleneck, and deep learning, are also surveyed.

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