How Do Humans Teach: On Curriculum Learning and Teaching Dimension

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Faisal Khan, Bilge Mutlu, Jerry Zhu


We study the empirical strategies that humans follow as they teach a target concept with a simple 1D threshold to a robot. Previous studies of computational teaching, particularly the teaching dimension model and the curriculum learning principle, offer contradictory predictions on what optimal strategy the teacher should follow in this teaching task. We show through behavioral studies that humans employ three distinct teaching strategies, one of which is consistent with the curriculum learning principle, and propose a novel theoretical framework as a potential explanation for this strategy. This framework, which assumes a teaching goal of minimizing the learner's expected generalization error at each iteration, extends the standard teaching dimension model and offers a theoretical justification for curriculum learning.