Classification in the Wild

The Science and Art of Transparent Decision Making

March 03, 2021

Rules for building formal models that use fast-and-frugal heuristics, extending the psychological study of classification to the real world of uncertainty.

Katsikopoulos, K. V., Șimșek, Ö., Buckmann, M., & Gigerenzer, G. (2020). Classification in the wild: The science and art of transparent decision making. MIT Press.

This book focuses on classification — allocating objects into categories — “in the wild,” in realworld situations and far from the certainty of the lab. In the wild, unlike in typical psychological experiments, the future is not knowable and uncertainty cannot be meaningfully reduced to probability. Connecting the science of heuristics with machine learning, the book shows how to create formal models using classification rules that are simple, fast, and transparent and that can be as accurate as mathematically sophisticated algorithms developed for machine learning. The authors — whose individual expertise ranges from empirical psychology to mathematical modeling to artificial intelligence and data science — offer real-world examples, including voting, HIV screening, and magistrate decision making; present an accessible guide to inducing the models statistically; compare the performance of such models to machine learning algorithms when applied to problems that include predicting diabetes or bank failure; and discuss conceptual and historical connections to cognitive psychology. Finally, they analyze such challenging safety-related applications as decreasing civilian casualties in checkpoints and regulating investment banks.

Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos is Associate Professor (Reader) of Behavioural Operations at the Southampton Business School where he is also Head of Research in the Department of Decision Analytics and Risk. Özgür Şimşek is Senior Lecturer in Machine Learning in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath, where she is also Deputy Director of the Institute for Mathematical Innovation. Marcus Buckmann is Senior Data Research Analyst at the Advanced Analytics Division of the Bank of England. Gerd Gigerenzer is Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the University of Potsdam.

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