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This volume contains the papers presented at the 15th Annual International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory (ALT 2004), which was held in Padova (Italy) October 2--5, 2004. The main objective of the conference is to provide an interdisciplinary forum discussing the theoretical foundations of machine learning as well as their relevance to practical applications. The conference was co-located with the Seventh International Conference on Discovery Science (DS 2004) and 11th Conference on String Processing and Information Retrieval (SPIRE 2004) under the general title ``The Padova Dialogues 2004''.

The volume includes 29 technical contributions which were selected by the program committee from 91 submissions. It also contains the invited lecture for ALT and DS 2004 presented by Ayumi Shinohara (Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan) on ``String Pattern Discovery''. Furthermore, this volume contains the ALT 2004 invited talks presented by Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy) on ``Applications of Regularized Least Squares in Classification Problems '', and by Luc De Raedt (Universität Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany) on ``Probabilistic Inductive Logic Programming.'' Additionally, it contains the invited lecture presented by Esko Ukkonen (University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland) on ``Hidden Markov Modelling Techniques for Haplotype Analysis'' (joint invited talk with DS 2004). Moreover, this volume includes the abstract of the joint invited lecture with DS 2004 presented by Pedro Domingos (University of Washington, Seattle, USA) on ``Learning, Logic, and Probability: A Unified View.'' Finally, this volume contains the papers of the research tutorials on Statistical Mechanical Methods in Learning by Toshiyuki Tanaka (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan) on ``Statistical Learning in Digital Wireless Communications,'' by Yoshiyuki Kabashima and Shinsuke Uda (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan) on ``A BP-Based Algorithm for Performing Bayesian Inference in Large Perceptron-Like Networks,'' and by Manfred Opper and Ole Winther on ``Approximate Inference in Probabilistic Models.''

ALT has been awarding the E. Mark Gold Award for the most outstanding paper by a student author since 1999. This year the award has been given to Hubie Chen for his paper, ``Learnability of Relatively Quantified Generalized Formulas,'' co-authored by Andrei Bulatov and Víctor Dalmau.

This conference was the 15th in a series of annual conferences established in 1990. Continuation of the ALT series is supervised by its steering committee consisting of: Thomas Zeugmann (Hokkaido Univ., Sapporo, Japan)Chair, Arun Sharma (Queensland Univ. of Technology, Australia) Co-Chair, Naoki Abe (IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA), Klaus Peter Jantke (DFKI, Germany), Roni Khardon (Tufts Univ., USA), Phil Long (National Univ. of Singapore), Hiroshi Motoda (Osaka University, Japan), Akira Maruoka (Tohoku Univ., Japan), Luc De Raedt (Albert-Ludwigs-Univ., Germany), Takeshi Shinohara (Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan), Osamu Watanabe (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan).

We would like to thank all individuals and institutions who contributed to the success of the conference: the authors for submitting papers, the invited speakers for accepting our invitation and lending us their insight into recent developments in their research areas as well as the sponsors for their generous financial and logistical support.

We would also like to thank Thomas Zeugmann for assisting us via his experience in the publication of previous ALT proceedings, for providing the ALT 2004 logo, and for managing the ALT 2004 web site. We are very grateful to Frank Balbach who developed the ALT 2004 electronic submission page.

Furthermore, we would like to express our gratitude to all program committee members for their hard work in reviewing the submitted papers and participating in on-line discussions. We are also grateful to the external referees whose reviews made a considerable contribution to this process.

We are also grateful to the DS 2004 chairs Einoshin Suzuki (PC Chair, Yokohama National University, Japan) and Setsuo Arikawa (Conference Chair, Kyushu University, Japan) for their effort in coordinating with ALT 2004, and to Massimo Melucci (University of Padova, Italy) for his excellent work as the local arrangements chair. Last but not least, Springer-Verlag provided excellent support in preparing this volume.

August 2004 Shai Ben-David
John Case
Akira Maruoka

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