In supervised learning, an inductive learning algorithm extracts general rules from observed training instances, then the rules are applied to test instances. We show that this splitting of training and application arises naturally, in the classical setting, from a simple independence requirement with a physical interpretation of being nonsignaling. Thus, two seemingly different definitions of inductive learning happen to coincide. This follows from the properties of classical information that break down in the quantum setup. We prove a quantum de Finetti theorem for quantum channels, which shows that in the quantum case, the equivalence holds in the asymptotic setting, that is, for large numbers of test instances. This reveals a natural analogy between classical learning protocols and their quantum counterparts, justifying a similar treatment, and allowing us to inquire about standard elements in computational learning theory, such as structural risk minimization and sample complexity.