Optimal Learning

Warren Buckler Powell, Ilya O. Ryzhov

Research output: Book/ReportBook

158 Scopus citations


Everyday decisions are made without the benefit of accurate information. Optimal Learning develops the needed principles for gathering information to make decisions, especially when collecting information is time-consuming and expensive. Designed for readers with an elementary background in probability and statistics, the book presents effective and practical policies illustrated in a wide range of applications, from energy, homeland security, and transportation to engineering, health, and business. This book covers the fundamental dimensions of a learning problem and presents a simple method for testing and comparing policies for learning. Special attention is given to the knowledge gradient policy and its use with a wide range of belief models, including lookup table and parametric and for online and offline problems. Three sections develop ideas with increasing levels of sophistication: Fundamentals explores fundamental topics, including adaptive learning, ranking and selection, the knowledge gradient, and bandit problems. Extensions and Applications features coverage of linear belief models, subset selection models, scalar function optimization, optimal bidding, and stopping problems. Advanced Topics explores complex methods including simulation optimization, active learning in mathematical programming, and optimal continuous measurements. Each chapter identifies a specific learning problem, presents the related, practical algorithms for implementation, and concludes with numerous exercises. A related website features additional applications and downloadable software, including MATLAB and the Optimal Learning Calculator, a spreadsheet-based package that provides an introduc-tion to learning and a variety of policies for learning.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages384
ISBN (Electronic)9781118309858
ISBN (Print)9780470596692
StatePublished - Apr 26 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics


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