Maulsby, D. & Witten, I. H. (1996). Learning agents: from user study to implementation. (Working paper 96/08). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Department of Computer Science.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/1161
Learning agents acquire procedures by being taught rather than programmed. To teach effectively, users prefer communicating in richer and more flexible ways than traditional computer dialogs allow. This paper describes the design, implementation and evaluation of a learning agent. In contrast to most Artificial Intelligence projects, the design centers on a user study, with a human-simulated agent to discover the interactions that people find natural. Our work shows that users instinctively communication via "hints," or partially-specified, ambiguous, instructions. Hints may be input verbally, or by pointing, or by selecting from menus. They may be unsolicited, or arise in response to a query from the agent. We develop a theory of instruction types for an agent to interpret them. The implementation demonstrates that computers can learn from examples and ambiguous hints. Finally, an evaluation reveals the extent to which our system meets the original design requirements.
- 1996 Working Papers