To Exploit or Explore, That is the Question
Date: Monday, February 10, 2014 @ 17:07:08 EST
Topic: General

Explore or Exploit? A Generic Model and an Exactly Solvable Case
Thomas Gueudré, Alexander Dobrinevski, and Jean-Philippe Bouchaud
Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 050602 (2014)
Published February 5, 2014

It’s a common conundrum: should I stay put or go in search of greener pastures? The question comes up in career choices, animal foraging, and investment strategies. In Physical Review Letters, researchers have formulated a general model for comparing the exploitation of a known resource vs the exploration for potentially more advantageous resources. The model allows the calculation of an optimal migration rate that maximizes profit or growth.

Previous work has tackled the exploration-exploitation tradeoff. A famous example is the multiarm bandit, in which a gambler has to decide whether to stay at one “lucky” slot machine (i.e., a one-arm bandit) or to venture out and take a chance with other machines. Scientists have solved this problem for specific cases, but a general solution framework has yet to be devised. Thomas Gueudré and his colleagues from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, have now created a model that encompasses the general features of exploration vs exploitation...


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