Learning From Small Samples: An Analysis of Simple Decision Heuristics

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Özgür Şimşek, Marcus Buckmann


Simple decision heuristics are models of human and animal behavior that use few pieces of information---perhaps only a single piece of information---and integrate the pieces in simple ways, for example, by considering them sequentially, one at a time, or by giving them equal weight. It is unknown how quickly these heuristics can be learned from experience. We show, analytically and empirically, that only a few training samples lead to substantial progress in learning. We focus on three families of heuristics: single-cue decision making, lexicographic decision making, and tallying. Our empirical analysis is the most extensive to date, employing 63 natural data sets on diverse subjects.