Active Learning for Decision Making

31 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2008

Date Written: November 2004


This paper addresses focused information acquisition for predictive data mining. Asbusinesses strive to cater to the preferences of individual consumers, they often employpredictive models to customize marketing efforts. Building accurate models requiresinformation about consumer preferences that often is costly to acquire. Prior research hasintroduced many â active learningâ policies for identifying information that is particularlyuseful for model induction, the goal being to reduce the acquisition cost necessary to inducea model with a given accuracy. However, predictive models often are used as part of adecision-making process, and costly improvements in model accuracy do not always result inbetter decisions. This paper develops a new approach for active information acquisition thattargets decision-making specifically. The method we introduce departs from the traditionalerror-reducing paradigm and places emphasis on acquisitions that are more likely to affectdecision-making. Empirical evaluations with direct marketing data demonstrate that for afixed information acquisition cost the method significantly improves the targeting decisions.The method is designed to be genericâ not based on a single model or inductionalgorithmâ and we show that it can be applied effectively to various predictive modelingtechniques.

Keywords: active learning, information acquisition, decision-making, class probability estimation, cost-sensitive learning

Suggested Citation

Saar-Tsechansky, Maytal and Provost, Foster, Active Learning for Decision Making (November 2004). Information Systems Working Papers Series, Vol. , pp. -, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Maytal Saar-Tsechansky

Univesity of Texas at Austin ( email )

CBA 5.202
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Foster Provost

New York University ( email )

44 West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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