- Abstract: Making decisions requires information relevant to the task at hand. Many real-life decision-making situations allow acquiring further relevant information at a specific cost. For example, in assessing the health status of a patient we may decide to take additional measurements such as diagnostic tests or imaging scans before making a final assessment. More information that is relevant allows for better decisions but it may be costly to acquire all of this information. How can we trade off the desire to make good decisions with the option to acquire further information at a cost? To this end, we propose a principled framework, named EDDI (Efficient Dynamic Discovery of high-value Information), based on the theory of Bayesian experimental design. In EDDI we propose a novel partial variational autoencoder (Partial VAE), to efficiently handle missing data over varying subsets of known information. EDDI combines this Partial VAE with an acquisition function that maximizes expected information gain on a set of target variables. EDDI is efficient and demonstrates that dynamic discovery of high-value information is possible; we show cost reduction at the same decision quality and improved decision quality at the same cost in benchmarks and in two health-care applications.. We believe there is great potential for realizing these gains in real-world decision support systems.
- Keywords: active variable selection, missing data, amortized inference