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2018


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Discovering and Teaching Optimal Planning Strategies

Lieder, F., Callaway, F., Krueger, P. M., Das, P., Griffiths, T. L., Gul, S.

In The 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK, September 2018, Falk Lieder and Frederick Callaway contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
How should we think and decide, and how can we learn to make better decisions? To address these questions we formalize the discovery of cognitive strategies as a metacognitive reinforcement learning problem. This formulation leads to a computational method for deriving optimal cognitive strategies and a feedback mechanism for accelerating the process by which people learn how to make better decisions. As a proof of concept, we apply our approach to develop an intelligent system that teaches people optimal planning stratgies. Our training program combines a novel process-tracing paradigm that makes peoples latent planning strategies observable with an intelligent system that gives people feedback on how their planning strategy could be improved. The pedagogy of our intelligent tutor is based on the theory that people discover their cognitive strategies through metacognitive reinforcement learning. Concretely, the tutor’s feedback is designed to maximally accelerate people’s metacognitive reinforcement learning towards the optimal cognitive strategy. A series of four experiments confirmed that training with the cognitive tutor significantly improved people’s decision-making competency: Experiment 1 demonstrated that the cognitive tutor’s feedback accelerates participants’ metacognitive learning. Experiment 2 found that this training effect transfers to more difficult planning problems in more complex environments. Experiment 3 found that these transfer effects are retained for at least 24 hours after the training. Finally, Experiment 4 found that practicing with the cognitive tutor conveys additional benefits above and beyond verbal description of the optimal planning strategy. The results suggest that promoting metacognitive reinforcement learning with optimal feedback is a promising approach to improving the human mind.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2018


link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Discovering Rational Heuristics for Risky Choice

Gul, S., Krueger, P. M., Callaway, F., Griffiths, T. L., Lieder, F.

The 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK, The 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK, September 2018 (conference)

Abstract
How should we think and decide to make the best possible use of our precious time and limited cognitive resources? And how do people’s cognitive strategies compare to this ideal? We study these questions in the domain of multi-alternative risky choice using the methodology of resource-rational analysis. To answer the first question, we leverage a new meta-level reinforcement learning algorithm to derive optimal heuristics for four different risky choice environments. We find that our method rediscovers two fast-and-frugal heuristics that people are known to use, namely Take-The-Best and choosing randomly, as resource-rational strategies for specific environments. Our method also discovered a novel heuristic that combines elements of Take-The-Best and Satisficing. To answer the second question, we use the Mouselab paradigm to measure how people’s decision strategies compare to the predictions of our resource-rational analysis. We found that our resource-rational analysis correctly predicted which strategies people use and under which conditions they use them. While people generally tend to make rational use of their limited resources overall, their strategy choices do not always fully exploit the structure of each decision problem. Overall, people’s decision operations were about 88% as resource-rational as they could possibly be. A formal model comparison confirmed that our resource-rational model explained people’s decision strategies significantly better than the Directed Cognition model of Gabaix et al. (2006). Our study is a proof-of-concept that optimal cognitive strategies can be automatically derived from the principle of resource-rationality. Our results suggest that resource-rational analysis is a promising approach for uncovering people’s cognitive strategies and revisiting the debate about human rationality with a more realistic normative standard.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Learning to Select Computations

Callaway, F., Gul, S., Krueger, P. M., Griffiths, T. L., Lieder, F.

In Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence: Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Conference, August 2018, Frederick Callaway and Sayan Gul and Falk Lieder contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
The efficient use of limited computational resources is an essential ingredient of intelligence. Selecting computations optimally according to rational metareasoning would achieve this, but this is computationally intractable. Inspired by psychology and neuroscience, we propose the first concrete and domain-general learning algorithm for approximating the optimal selection of computations: Bayesian metalevel policy search (BMPS). We derive this general, sample-efficient search algorithm for a computation-selecting metalevel policy based on the insight that the value of information lies between the myopic value of information and the value of perfect information. We evaluate BMPS on three increasingly difficult metareasoning problems: when to terminate computation, how to allocate computation between competing options, and planning. Across all three domains, BMPS achieved near-optimal performance and compared favorably to previously proposed metareasoning heuristics. Finally, we demonstrate the practical utility of BMPS in an emergency management scenario, even accounting for the overhead of metareasoning.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


A resource-rational analysis of human planning
A resource-rational analysis of human planning

Callaway, F., Lieder, F., Das, P., Gul, S., Krueger, P. M., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, May 2018, Frederick Callaway and Falk Lieder contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
People's cognitive strategies are jointly shaped by function and computational constraints. Resource-rational analysis leverages these constraints to derive rational models of people's cognitive strategies from the assumption that people make rational use of limited cognitive resources. We present a resource-rational analysis of planning and evaluate its predictions in a newly developed process tracing paradigm. In Experiment 1, we find that a resource-rational planning strategy predicts the process by which people plan more accurately than previous models of planning. Furthermore, in Experiment 2, we find that it also captures how people's planning strategies adapt to the structure of the environment. In addition, our approach allows us to quantify for the first time how close people's planning strategies are to being resource-rational and to characterize in which ways they conform to and deviate from optimal planning.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]

2016


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Helping people make better decisions using optimal gamification

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2016 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Game elements like points and levels are a popular tool to nudge and engage students and customers. Yet, no theory can tell us which incentive structures work and how to design them. Here we connect the practice of gamification to the theory of reward shaping in reinforcement learning. We leverage this connection to develop a method for designing effective incentive structures and delineating when gamification will succeed from when it will fail. We evaluate our method in two behavioral experiments. The results of the first experiment demonstrate that incentive structures designed by our method help people make better, less short-sighted decisions and avoid the pitfalls of less principled approaches. The results of the second experiment illustrate that such incentive structures can be effectively implemented using game elements like points and badges. These results suggest that our method provides a principled way to leverage gamification to help people make better decisions.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2016


link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2015


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When to use which heuristic: A rational solution to the strategy selection problem

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The human mind appears to be equipped with a toolbox full of cognitive strategies, but how do people decide when to use which strategy? We leverage rational metareasoning to derive a rational solution to this problem and apply it to decision making under uncertainty. The resulting theory reconciles the two poles of the debate about human rationality by proposing that people gradually learn to make rational use of fallible heuristics. We evaluate this theory against empirical data and existing accounts of strategy selection (i.e. SSL and RELACS). Our results suggest that while SSL and RELACS can explain people's ability to adapt to homogeneous environments in which all decision problems are of the same type, rational metareasoning can additionally explain people's ability to adapt to heterogeneous environments and flexibly switch strategies from one decision to the next.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2015


link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Children and Adults Differ in their Strategies for Social Learning

Lieder, F., Sim, Z. L., Hu, J. C., Griffiths, T. L., Xu, F.

In Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2015 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Adults and children rely heavily on other people’s testimony. However, domains of knowledge where there is no consensus on the truth are likely to result in conflicting testimonies. Previous research has demonstrated that in these cases, learners look towards the majority opinion to make decisions. However, it remains unclear how learners evaluate social information, given that considering either the overall valence, or the number of testimonies, or both may lead to different conclusions. We therefore formalized several social learning strategies and compared them to the performance of adults and children. We find that children use different strategies than adults. This suggests that the development of social learning may involve the acquisition of cognitive strategies.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Learning from others: Adult and child strategies in assessing conflicting ratings

Hu, J., Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., Xu, F.

In Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2015 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Utility-weighted sampling in decisions from experience

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., Hsu, M.

In The 2nd Multidisciplinary Conference on Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making, 2015 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2014


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Algorithm selection by rational metareasoning as a model of human strategy selection

Lieder, F., Plunkett, D., Hamrick, J. B., Russell, S. J., Hay, N. J., Griffiths, T. L.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Selecting the right algorithm is an important problem in computer science, because the algorithm often has to exploit the structure of the input to be efficient. The human mind faces the same challenge. Therefore, solutions to the algorithm selection problem can inspire models of human strategy selection and vice versa. Here, we view the algorithm selection problem as a special case of metareasoning and derive a solution that outperforms existing methods in sorting algorithm selection. We apply our theory to model how people choose between cognitive strategies and test its prediction in a behavioral experiment. We find that people quickly learn to adaptively choose between cognitive strategies. People's choices in our experiment are consistent with our model but inconsistent with previous theories of human strategy selection. Rational metareasoning appears to be a promising framework for reverse-engineering how people choose among cognitive strategies and translating the results into better solutions to the algorithm selection problem.

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Project Page [BibTex]

2014


Project Page [BibTex]


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The high availability of extreme events serves resource-rational decision-making

Lieder, F., Hsu, M., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2014 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Layers of Abstraction: (Neuro)computational models of learning local and global statistical regularities

Diaconescu, A., Lieder, F., Mathys, C., Stephan, K. E.

In 20th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, 2014 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2013


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Controllability and Resource-Rational Planning

Lieder, F., Goodman, N. D., Huys, Q. J.

In Computational and Systems Neuroscience (Cosyne), pages: 112, 2013 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Learned helplessness experiments involving controllable vs. uncontrollable stressors have shown that the perceived ability to control events has profound consequences for decision making. Normative models of decision making, however, do not naturally incorporate knowledge about controllability, and previous approaches to incorporating it have led to solutions with biologically implausible computational demands [1,2]. Intuitively, controllability bounds the differential rewards for choosing one strategy over another, and therefore believing that the environment is uncontrollable should reduce one’s willingness to invest time and effort into choosing between options. Here, we offer a normative, resource-rational account of the role of controllability in trading mental effort for expected gain. In this view, the brain not only faces the task of solving Markov decision problems (MDPs), but it also has to optimally allocate its finite computational resources to solve them efficiently. This joint problem can itself be cast as a MDP [3], and its optimal solution respects computational constraints by design. We start with an analytic characterisation of the influence of controllability on the use of computational resources. We then replicate previous results on the effects of controllability on the differential value of exploration vs. exploitation, showing that these are also seen in a cognitively plausible regime of computational complexity. Third, we find that controllability makes computation valuable, so that it is worth investing more mental effort the higher the subjective controllability. Fourth, we show that in this model the perceived lack of control (helplessness) replicates empirical findings [4] whereby patients with major depressive disorder are less likely to repeat a choice that led to a reward, or to avoid a choice that led to a loss. Finally, the model makes empirically testable predictions about the relationship between reaction time and helplessness.

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[BibTex]

2013


[BibTex]


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Learned helplessness and generalization

Lieder, F., Goodman, N. D., Huys, Q. J. M.

In 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Reverse-Engineering Resource-Efficient Algorithms

Lieder, F., Goodman, N. D., Griffiths, T. L.

In NIPS Workshop Resource-Efficient Machine Learning, 2013 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]