Learning and Optimizing with Preferences
(joint invited lecture for ALT & DS 2013)

Author: Nir Ailon

Affiliation: Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Haifa, Israel

Abstract. Preferences and choices are a central source of information generated by humans. They have been studied for centuries in the context of social choice theory, econometric theory, statistics and psychology. At least two Nobel prizes in economics have been awarded for work reasoning about human preferences and choices.

In the last two decades computer scientists have studied preference data, which became available in unprecedented quantities: Each time we click or tap on a search result, a sponsored ad or a product recommendation, we express preference of one alternative from a small set of alternatives. Additionally, many crowsdsourcing systems explicitly ask (paid?) experts to solicit preferences or even full rankings of alternative sets.

What are the advantages of preferences compared to other forms of information, and what challenges do they give rise to? I will present important problems and survey results.

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