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  Thermodynamics as a theory of decision-making with information-processing costs

Ortega, P. A., & Braun, D. A. (2013). Thermodynamics as a theory of decision-making with information-processing costs. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 469(2153): 20120683, pp. 1-18. doi:10.1098/rspa.2012.0683.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-1ED5-E Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-1ED6-D
Genre: Journal Article

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 Creators:
Ortega, Pedro A.1, 2, Author              
Braun, Daniel A.1, 2, Author              
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, Spemannstrasse 38, 72076 Tübingen, DE, ou_1497794              
2Research Group Sensorimotor Learning and Decision-Making, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497809              

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 Abstract: Perfectly rational decision-makers maximize expected utility, but crucially ignore the resource costs incurred when determining optimal actions. Here, we propose a thermodynamically inspired formalization of bounded rational decision-making where information processing is modelled as state changes in thermodynamic systems that can be quantified by differences in free energy. By optimizing a free energy, bounded rational decision-makers trade off expected utility gains and information-processing costs measured by the relative entropy. As a result, the bounded rational decision-making problem can be rephrased in terms of well-known variational principles from statistical physics. In the limit when computational costs are ignored, the maximum expected utility principle is recovered. We discuss links to existing decision-making frameworks and applications to human decision-making experiments that are at odds with expected utility theory. Since most of the mathematical machinery can be borrowed from statistical physics, the main contribution is to re-interpret the formalism of thermodynamic free-energy differences in terms of bounded rational decision-making and to discuss its relationship to human decision-making experiments.

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 Dates: 2013-05
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: 18
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2012.0683
BibTex Citekey: OrtegaB2013
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Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: London, UK : Royal Society of London
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 469 (2153) Sequence Number: 20120683 Start / End Page: 1 - 18 Identifier: ISSN: 1364-5021
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954928604112_2