Time-Dependent Utility and Action Under Uncertainty

Eric Horvitz and Geoffrey Rutledge

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We discuss representing and reasoning with knowledge about the time-dependent utility of an agent's actions. Time-dependent utility plays a crucial role in the interaction between computation and action under bounded resources. We present a semantics for time-dependent utility and describe the use of time-dependent information in decision contexts. We illustrate our discussion with examples of time-pressured reasoning in Protos, a system constructed to explore the ideal control of inference by reasoners that have limited abilities.

Keywords: Time-critical decisions, rationality, bounded resources, bounded optimality, decision theory, real-time reasoning.

In: Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, Los Angeles, CA, pages 151-158. Morgan Kaufmann, San Mateo, CA, July 1991. Also Stanford CS Technical Report KSL-91-33.

Author Email: horvitz@microsoft.com