Minds and Machines

, Volume 26, Issue 1–2, pp 31–59

The Revenge of Ecological Rationality: Strategy-Selection by Meta-Induction Within Changing Environments


DOI: 10.1007/s11023-015-9369-7

Cite this article as:
Schurz, G. & Thorn, P.D. Minds & Machines (2016) 26: 31. doi:10.1007/s11023-015-9369-7


According to the paradigm of adaptive rationality, successful inference and prediction methods tend to be local and frugal. As a complement to work within this paradigm, we investigate the problem of selecting an optimal combination of prediction methods from a given toolbox of such local methods, in the context of changing environments. These selection methods are called meta-inductive (MI) strategies, if they are based on the success-records of the toolbox-methods. No absolutely optimal MI strategy exists—a fact that we call the “revenge of ecological rationality”. Nevertheless one can show that a certain MI strategy exists, called “AW”, which is universally long-run optimal, with provably small short-run losses, in comparison to any set of prediction methods that it can use as input. We call this property universal access-optimality. Local and short-run improvements over AW are possible, but only at the cost of forfeiting universal access-optimality. The last part of the paper includes an empirical study of MI strategies in application to an 8-year-long data set from the Monash University Footy Tipping Competition.


Prediction task Adaptive rationality Strategy selection Meta-induction Online learning 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyHeinrich Heine University DuesseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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