Utilities as Random Variables: Density Estimation and Structure Discovery
Urszula Chajewska, Daphne Koller
Abstract:
Decision theory does not traditionally include uncertainty over utility functions. We argue that the a person's utility value for a given outcome can be treated as we treat other domain attributes: as a random variable with a density function over its possible values. We show that we can apply statistical density estimation techniques to learn such a density function from a database of partially elicited utility functions. In particular, we define a Bayesian learning framework for this problem, assuming the distribution over utilities is a mixture of Gaussians, where the mixture components represent statistically coherent subpopulations. We can also extend our techniques to the problem of discovering generalized additivity structure in the utility functions in the population. We define a Bayesian model selection criterion for utility function structure and a search procedure over structures. The factorization of the utilities in the learned model, and the generalization obtained from density estimation, allows us to provide robust estimates of utilities using a significantly smaller number of utility elicitation questions. We experiment with our technique on synthetic utility data and on a real database of utility functions in the domain of prenatal diagnosis.
Keywords: decision making, factored utilities, structure learning, density estimation.
Pages: 6371
PS Link: http://robotics.stanford.edu/~koller/papers/uai00ck.ps
PDF Link: /papers/00/p63chajewska.pdf
BibTex:
@INPROCEEDINGS{Chajewska00,
AUTHOR = "Urszula Chajewska
and Daphne Koller",
TITLE = "Utilities as Random Variables: Density Estimation and Structure Discovery",
BOOKTITLE = "Proceedings of the Sixteenth Conference Annual Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI00)",
PUBLISHER = "Morgan Kaufmann",
ADDRESS = "San Francisco, CA",
YEAR = "2000",
PAGES = "6371"
}

