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Type: Conference paper
Title: Decision-Making on the Full Information Secretary Problem
Author: Lee, M.
Gregory, T.
Welsh, M.
Citation: Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Cognitive Science Society / K. Forbus, D. Gentner, T. Reiger (eds.), pp. 819-824
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum
Publisher Place: New Jersey, USA
Issue Date: 2005
ISBN: 0805854649
Conference Name: Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (26th : 2004 : Chicago, Ill.)
Editor: Forbus, K.
Gentner, D.
Regier, T.
Statement of
Michael D. Lee, Tess A. O'Connor and Matthew B. Welsh
Abstract: The secretary problem is a recreational mathematics problem, suited to laboratory experimentation, that nevertheless is representative of a class of real world sequential decision-making tasks. In the ‘full information’ version, an observer is presented with a sequence of values from a known distribution, and is required to choose the maximum value. The difficulties are that a value can only be chosen at the time it is presented, that the last value in the sequence is a forced choice if none is chosen earlier, and that any value that is not the maximum is scored as completely wrong. We report a study of human performance on full information secretary problems with 10, 20 and 50 values in the sequence, and considers three different heuristics as models of human decision-making. It is found that some people achieve near-optimal levels of accuracy, but that there are individual differences in human performance. A quantitative evaluation of the three heuristics, using the Minimum Description Length criterion, shows inter-individual differences, but intra-individual consistency, in the use of the heuristics. In particular, people seem to use the heuristics that involve choosing a value when it exceeds an internal threshold, but differ in how they set thresholds. On the basis of these findings, a more general threshold-based family of heuristic models is developed.
Rights: © the authors
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