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Title: Combined decision making with multiple agents
Author: Simpson, Edwin Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 5969
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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In a wide range of applications, decisions must be made by combining information from multiple agents with varying levels of trust and expertise. For example, citizen science involves large numbers of human volunteers with differing skills, while disaster management requires aggregating information from multiple people and devices to make timely decisions. This thesis introduces efficient and scalable Bayesian inference for decision combination, allowing us to fuse the responses of multiple agents in large, real-world problems and account for the agents’ unreliability in a principled manner. As the behaviour of individual agents can change significantly, for example if agents move in a physical space or learn to perform an analysis task, this work proposes a novel combination method that accounts for these time variations in a fully Bayesian manner using a dynamic generalised linear model. This approach can also be used to augment agents’ responses with continuous feature data, thus permitting decision-making when agents’ responses are in limited supply. Working with information inferred using the proposed Bayesian techniques, an information-theoretic approach is developed for choosing optimal pairs of tasks and agents. This approach is demonstrated by an algorithm that maintains a trustworthy pool of workers and enables efficient learning by selecting informative tasks. The novel methods developed here are compared theoretically and empirically to a range of existing decision combination methods, using both simulated and real data. The results show that the methodology proposed in this thesis improves accuracy and computational efficiency over alternative approaches, and allows for insights to be determined into the behavioural groupings of agents.
Supervisor: Roberts, Stephen J. Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Information engineering ; Computationally-intensive statistics ; Pattern recognition (statistics) ; Classification ; Crowdsourcing ; Classifiers ; Classifier combination ; Multi-classifier Systems ; Ensemble Methods ; Bayes ; Bayesian ; Variational Bayes ; Variational ; Variational Inference ; Citizen Science