An empirical study into learning through experimentation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3197xp898

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  • A key aspect of how we understand the world revolves around an ability to manipulate our surroundings to experiment. From the scientific method through theories of child development, the ability to experiment is deemed critical; however, few studies have been performed to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different experimental strategies. This dissertation investigated the effectiveness of several different experimental strategies when learning about an unknown system. An empirical study was performed using binary functions as hypotheses and using computer programs to model several different experimental strategies. These strategies were derived from our definition of a normative experiment selector, which described how an idealized experimenter should select experiments. A detailed program of study was performed on these computer programs to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the experimental strategies they implemented. The number of experiments needed to determine a target theory from an initial set of hypotheses was measured. Two key discoveries were made. First, we discovered that simple experimental strategies were the most effective. For example, the most effective strategy we discovered was experimental relevance selecting any experiment guaranteeing elimination of at least a single hypothesis from the set being considered. Complex strategies to determine the optimal experiment to perform were very costly for a slight performance gain. Second, we discovered that only two factors had any major effect on performance: the number of experimental outcomes and the number of initial hypotheses considered. The number of experiments available to the experiment selector had little or no effect. Our best situations were where: (a) only a small number of hypotheses were possible, (b) each experiment had a large number of outcomes, and (c) relevant experiments were easy to determine and perform.
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  • File scanned at 300 ppi (Monochrome) using Capture Perfect 3.0.82 on a Canon DR-9080C in PDF format. CVista PdfCompressor 4.0 was used for pdf compression and textual OCR.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-04-02T21:03:55Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 RuffRitcheyA1991.pdf: 8046452 bytes, checksum: 7d2c75602c26128481322e63a23bbea3 (MD5)
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-04-02T17:54:43Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 RuffRitcheyA1991.pdf: 8046452 bytes, checksum: 7d2c75602c26128481322e63a23bbea3 (MD5)
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