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2014


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Open Problem: Finding Good Cascade Sampling Processes for the Network Inference Problem

Gomez Rodriguez, M., Song, L., Schölkopf, B.

Proceedings of the 27th Conference on Learning Theory, 35, pages: 1276-1279, (Editors: Balcan, M.-F. and Szepesvári, C.), JMLR.org, COLT, 2014 (conference)

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PDF [BibTex]

2014


PDF [BibTex]


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Information-Theoretic Bounded Rationality and ϵ-Optimality

Braun, DA, Ortega, PA

Entropy, 16(8):4662-4676, August 2014 (article)

Abstract
Bounded rationality concerns the study of decision makers with limited information processing resources. Previously, the free energy difference functional has been suggested to model bounded rational decision making, as it provides a natural trade-off between an energy or utility function that is to be optimized and information processing costs that are measured by entropic search costs. The main question of this article is how the information-theoretic free energy model relates to simple \(\epsilon\)-optimality models of bounded rational decision making, where the decision maker is satisfied with any action in an \(\epsilon\)-neighborhood of the optimal utility. We find that the stochastic policies that optimize the free energy trade-off comply with the notion of \(\epsilon\)-optimality. Moreover, this optimality criterion even holds when the environment is adversarial. We conclude that the study of bounded rationality based on \(\epsilon\)-optimality criteria that abstract away from the particulars of the information processing constraints is compatible with the information-theoretic free energy model of bounded rationality.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Occam’s Razor in sensorimotor learning

Genewein, T, Braun, D

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 281(1783):1-7, May 2014 (article)

Abstract
A large number of recent studies suggest that the sensorimotor system uses probabilistic models to predict its environment and makes inferences about unobserved variables in line with Bayesian statistics. One of the important features of Bayesian statistics is Occam's Razor—an inbuilt preference for simpler models when comparing competing models that explain some observed data equally well. Here, we test directly for Occam's Razor in sensorimotor control. We designed a sensorimotor task in which participants had to draw lines through clouds of noisy samples of an unobserved curve generated by one of two possible probabilistic models—a simple model with a large length scale, leading to smooth curves, and a complex model with a short length scale, leading to more wiggly curves. In training trials, participants were informed about the model that generated the stimulus so that they could learn the statistics of each model. In probe trials, participants were then exposed to ambiguous stimuli. In probe trials where the ambiguous stimulus could be fitted equally well by both models, we found that participants showed a clear preference for the simpler model. Moreover, we found that participants’ choice behaviour was quantitatively consistent with Bayesian Occam's Razor. We also show that participants’ drawn trajectories were similar to samples from the Bayesian predictive distribution over trajectories and significantly different from two non-probabilistic heuristics. In two control experiments, we show that the preference of the simpler model cannot be simply explained by a difference in physical effort or by a preference for curve smoothness. Our results suggest that Occam's Razor is a general behavioural principle already present during sensorimotor processing.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Generalized Thompson sampling for sequential decision-making and causal inference

Ortega, PA, Braun, DA

Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling, 2(2):1-23, March 2014 (article)

Abstract
Purpose Sampling an action according to the probability that the action is believed to be the optimal one is sometimes called Thompson sampling. Methods Although mostly applied to bandit problems, Thompson sampling can also be used to solve sequential adaptive control problems, when the optimal policy is known for each possible environment. The predictive distribution over actions can then be constructed by a Bayesian superposition of the policies weighted by their posterior probability of being optimal. Results Here we discuss two important features of this approach. First, we show in how far such generalized Thompson sampling can be regarded as an optimal strategy under limited information processing capabilities that constrain the sampling complexity of the decision-making process. Second, we show how such Thompson sampling can be extended to solve causal inference problems when interacting with an environment in a sequential fashion. Conclusion In summary, our results suggest that Thompson sampling might not merely be a useful heuristic, but a principled method to address problems of adaptive sequential decision-making and causal inference.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Assessing randomness and complexity in human motion trajectories through analysis of symbolic sequences

Peng, Z, Genewein, T, Braun, DA

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(168):1-13, March 2014 (article)

Abstract
Complexity is a hallmark of intelligent behavior consisting both of regular patterns and random variation. To quantitatively assess the complexity and randomness of human motion, we designed a motor task in which we translated subjects' motion trajectories into strings of symbol sequences. In the first part of the experiment participants were asked to perform self-paced movements to create repetitive patterns, copy pre-specified letter sequences, and generate random movements. To investigate whether the degree of randomness can be manipulated, in the second part of the experiment participants were asked to perform unpredictable movements in the context of a pursuit game, where they received feedback from an online Bayesian predictor guessing their next move. We analyzed symbol sequences representing subjects' motion trajectories with five common complexity measures: predictability, compressibility, approximate entropy, Lempel-Ziv complexity, as well as effective measure complexity. We found that subjects’ self-created patterns were the most complex, followed by drawing movements of letters and self-paced random motion. We also found that participants could change the randomness of their behavior depending on context and feedback. Our results suggest that humans can adjust both complexity and regularity in different movement types and contexts and that this can be assessed with information-theoretic measures of the symbolic sequences generated from movement trajectories.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Curiosity-driven learning with Context Tree Weighting

Peng, Z, Braun, DA

pages: 366-367, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, 4th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics (IEEE ICDL-EPIROB), October 2014 (conference)

Abstract
In the first simulation, the intrinsic motivation of the agent was given by measuring learning progress through reduction in informational surprise (Figure 1 A-C). This way the agent should first learn the action that is easiest to learn (a1), and then switch to other actions that still allow for learning (a2) and ignore actions that cannot be learned at all (a3). This is exactly what we found in our simple environment. Compared to the original developmental learning algorithm based on learning progress proposed by Oudeyer [2], our Context Tree Weighting approach does not require local experts to do prediction, rather it learns the conditional probability distribution over observations given action in one structure. In the second simulation, the intrinsic motivation of the agent was given by measuring compression progress through improvement in compressibility (Figure 1 D-F). The agent behaves similarly: the agent first concentrates on the action with the most predictable consequence and then switches over to the regular action where the consequence is more difficult to predict, but still learnable. Unlike the previous simulation, random actions are also interesting to some extent because the compressed symbol strings use 8-bit representations, while only 2 bits are required for our observation space. Our preliminary results suggest that Context Tree Weighting might provide a useful representation to study problems of development.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Monte Carlo methods for exact & efficient solution of the generalized optimality equations

Ortega, PA, Braun, DA, Tishby, N

pages: 4322-4327, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), June 2014 (conference)

Abstract
Previous work has shown that classical sequential decision making rules, including expectimax and minimax, are limit cases of a more general class of bounded rational planning problems that trade off the value and the complexity of the solution, as measured by its information divergence from a given reference. This allows modeling a range of novel planning problems having varying degrees of control due to resource constraints, risk-sensitivity, trust and model uncertainty. However, so far it has been unclear in what sense information constraints relate to the complexity of planning. In this paper, we introduce Monte Carlo methods to solve the generalized optimality equations in an efficient \& exact way when the inverse temperatures in a generalized decision tree are of the same sign. These methods highlight a fundamental relation between inverse temperatures and the number of Monte Carlo proposals. In particular, it is seen that the number of proposals is essentially independent of the size of the decision tree.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]