Asymptotics of the Bootstrap via Stability with Applications to Inference with Model Selection

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Morgane Austern, Vasilis Syrgkanis


One of the most commonly used methods for forming confidence intervals is the empirical bootstrap, which is especially expedient when the limiting distribution of the estimator is unknown. However, despite its ubiquitous role in machine learning, its theoretical properties are still not well understood. Recent developments in probability have provided new tools to study the bootstrap method. However, they have been applied only to specific applications and contexts, and it is unclear whether these techniques are applicable to the understanding of the consistency of the bootstrap in machine learning pipelines. In this paper, we derive general stability conditions under which the empirical bootstrap estimator is consistent and quantify the speed of convergence. Moreover, we propose alternative ways to use the bootstrap method to build confidence intervals with coverage guarantees. Finally, we illustrate the generality and tightness of our results by examples of interest for machine learning including for two-sample kernel tests after kernel selection and the empirical risk of stacked estimators.