Decisions and Expert Systems

Decision theory

  • The utility equation

  • Measuring information

  • Cost of gathering information

  • A Bayesian method

Expected Value

  • The expected value of a uniformly distributed set of numbers is the average of its values

    E(S) = sum S / |S|
    
  • More generally, the expected value is the centroid

    E(S) = sum [e in S] e pr(e in S)
    

    This reduces to the average when elements are equally probable

The Utility Equation

  • Sometimes you need to pick a best action a from a set of choices A

  • When you know what effect e(a) each action will have, and you know the value v(e) of each effect, this is easy: just pick

    argmax [a in A] v(e(a))
    
  • But the world is uncertain. Sometimes all you know is the probability of various action effects pr(e|a)

  • You might evaluate the utility U of an action in terms of expected effect value

    U(a) = E(v(a)) = sum [e in e(a)] v(e) pr(e|a)
    
  • You can now just maximize again

    argmax [a in A] U(a)
    

The Game of Hangman

  • "Defendant" picks a word, writes blanks for its letters, draws a gallows

    ----
    |  |
    |
    |
    |
    |       _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    
  • "Prosecution" guesses letters of the word in turn. Guessing a letter not in the word causes a body part to be added to the gallows. Guessing a letter in the word fills in all occurrences

    ----   z w
    |  |
    |
    |  O
    |  |
    |      _ _ _ _ _ _ i _
    
  • "Trial" is over when word is completed or def is hanged

    ----   z w e a o u
    |  |
    |
    |  O
    | /|\
    | / \  _ _ _ _ _ _ i c
    

Hangman Prosecution and Utility

  • What letter should pros guess first?

  • Let's assume that def chose random 8-letter word from known dictionary

  • Let's further assume that a found letter has a uniform value of 1

  • Then find

    argmax [l in 'a'..'z'] (l in word) pr(word|dict)
    
  • This is an easy calculation: 'e' occurs in 2/3 of the 8-letter words (see bestguess.py)

Hangman: My Assumptions Are Weak

  • Problem: because 'e' is so common, hitting it doesn't necessarily narrow things down so much

  • Value function should be based on expected chance of winning after hitting or missing the letter

  • Problem: Def isn't choosing uniformly — will pick "hard" words

  • Need to know probability given defense strategy pr(word|ds(dict))

  • So

    argmax [l in 'a'..'z'] v(win with word) pr(word|ds(dict))
    

Hangman: Nash Equilibrium

  • Ugh. ds(dict) will depend on guessing strategy

    • "Good old rock. Can always count on rock"
  • Adversary games are hard. But Nash Equilibrium exists and can in principle be calculated

  • Current research for me

Information Theory

  • Consider these strings of bits

    0111111111111111
    
    0101100010011011
    
    • x is boring and easy to describe. You could predict the "next value" pretty reliably

    • y is complicated

  • Shannon et al: x has "less information" than y

  • Information content can be viewed as a utility function. The entropy of a set is given as

    u(S) = sum [i in S] pr(i) lg 1/pr(i)
         = sum [i in S] - pr(i) lg pr(i)
    

    For our sets (strings)

    u(x) = - pr(0) lg pr(0) - pr(1) lg pr(1)
         = - (1/16) lg (1/16) - (15/16) lg (15/16)
        ~= 0.337
    
    u(y) = - pr(0) lg pr(0) - pr(1) lg pr(1)
         = - 2 (8/16) lg (8/16)
         = -2 × 0.5 × -1 = 1
    

Hangman: Entropy-Based Prosecution

  • Pros wants to get to a state where there is only one choice

  • Standard trick: pick the letter that has the greatest expected chance of reducing the entropy the most

    argmax [l in 'a'..'z']
        (1 - sum [p in part(l, dict)] u(l))) pr(l)
    
  • Does this still produce 'e' as the initial guess? It does

  • We have taken into account the "cost of gathering information" as part of the utility: we don't want to make a guess that costs us a body part unless we get a lot of information from it

Demonic Hangman

  • Consider "Demonic Hangman": Def cheats as desired by changing the word in a way consistent with the guesses so far

  • Now we almost have to use entropy to narrow Def down to only one choice quickly

Decision theory

  • The utility equation

  • Measuring information

  • Cost of gathering information

  • A Bayesian method

Expected Value

  • The expected value of a uniformly distributed set of numbers is the average of its values

    E(S) = sum S / |S|
    
  • More generally, the expected value is the centroid

    E(S) = sum [e in S] e pr(e in S)
    

    This reduces to the average when elements are equally probable

The Utility Equation

  • Sometimes you need to pick a best action a from a set of choices A

  • When you know what effect e(a) each action will have, and you know the value v(e) of each effect, this is easy: just pick

    argmax [a in A] v(e(a))
    
  • But the world is uncertain. Sometimes all you know is the probability of various action effects pr(e|a)

  • You might evaluate the utility U of an action in terms of expected effect value

    U(a) = E(v(a)) = sum [e in e(a)] v(e) pr(e|a)
    
  • You can now just maximize again

    argmax [a in A] U(a)
    

The Game of Hangman

  • "Defendant" picks a word, writes blanks for its letters, draws a gallows

    ----
    |  |
    |
    |
    |
    |       _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    
  • "Prosecution" guesses letters of the word in turn. Guessing a letter not in the word causes a body part to be added to the gallows. Guessing a letter in the word fills in all occurrences

    ----   z w
    |  |
    |
    |  O
    |  |
    |      _ _ _ _ _ _ i _
    
  • "Trial" is over when word is completed or def is hanged

    ----   z w e a o u
    |  |
    |
    |  O
    | /|\
    | / \  _ _ _ _ _ _ i c
    

Hangman Prosecution and Utility

  • What letter should pros guess first?

  • Let's assume that def chose random 8-letter word from known dictionary

  • Let's further assume that a found letter has a uniform value of 1

  • Then find

    argmax [l in 'a'..'z'] (l in word) pr(word|dict)
    
  • This is an easy calculation: 'e' occurs in 2/3 of the 8-letter words (see bestguess.py)

Hangman: My Assumptions Are Weak

  • Problem: because 'e' is so common, hitting it doesn't necessarily narrow things down so much

  • Value function should be based on expected chance of winning after hitting or missing the letter

  • Problem: Def isn't choosing uniformly — will pick "hard" words

  • Need to know probability given defense strategy pr(word|ds(dict))

  • So

    argmax [l in 'a'..'z'] v(win with word) pr(word|ds(dict))
    

Hangman: Nash Equilibrium

  • Ugh. ds(dict) will depend on guessing strategy

    • "Good old rock. Can always count on rock"
  • Adversary games are hard. But Nash Equilibrium exists and can in principle be calculated

  • Current research for me

Information Theory

  • Consider these strings of bits

    0111111111111111
    
    0101100010011011
    
    • x is boring and easy to describe. You could predict the "next value" pretty reliably

    • y is complicated

  • Shannon et al: x has "less information" than y

  • Information content can be viewed as a utility function. The entropy of a set is given as

    u(S) = sum [i in S] pr(i) lg 1/pr(i)
         = sum [i in S] - pr(i) lg pr(i)
    

    For our sets (strings)

    u(x) = - pr(0) lg pr(0) - pr(1) lg pr(1)
         = - (1/16) lg (1/16) - (15/16) lg (15/16)
        ~= 0.337
    
    u(y) = - pr(0) lg pr(0) - pr(1) lg pr(1)
         = - 2 (8/16) lg (8/16)
         = -2 × 0.5 × -1 = 1
    

Hangman: Entropy-Based Prosecution

  • Pros wants to get to a state where there is only one choice

  • Standard trick: pick the letter that has the greatest expected chance of reducing the entropy the most

    argmax [l in 'a'..'z']
        (1 - sum [p in part(l, dict)] u(l))) pr(l)
    
  • Does this still produce 'e' as the initial guess? It does

  • We have taken into account the "cost of gathering information" as part of the utility: we don't want to make a guess that costs us a body part unless we get a lot of information from it

Demonic Hangman

  • Consider "Demonic Hangman": Def cheats as desired by changing the word in a way consistent with the guesses so far

  • Now we almost have to use entropy to narrow Def down to only one choice quickly

Last modified: Monday, 4 November 2019, 2:42 PM