Information Flows and Networks II

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Optimal Scope Is Mid-Range

Note: in order to run the simulation referred to in this slide, go here, to the Java Applet version. You will be directed to download the latest version of the Java plug-in.

Aiming to explore the effects of Learner's connectivity, we steadily increase the number of links with every press of this slide's "Go" button. At the same time, we record the recent payoff she receives from gathered information on the corresponding line graph.

If you go through the entire cycle by clicking "Go" 15 times, you should obtain a curve shaped roughly like an inverted U. Clearly, optimal performance is achieved when the number of connections is mid-range - somewhere between 6 and 8. Here's why. A low number of connections translates into dormant potential for the agent. In other words, she is capable of keeping track of more than the number of options she has access to, and would benefit from broadening her scope. On the other hand, too many connections mean a higher error percentage, for the agent fails to update some of her options in time, thinking of the high-valued choices as having low values, and vice versa.

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