Sharp Thresholds of the Information Cascade Fragility Under a Mismatched Model

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Wasim Huleihel, Ofer Shayevitz ;
Proceedings of the Twenty Third International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, PMLR 108:549-558, 2020.

Abstract

We analyze a sequential decision making model in which decision makers (or, players) take their decisions based on their own private information as well as the actions of previous decision makers. Such decision making processes often lead to what is known as the \emph{information cascade} or \emph{herding} phenomenon. Specifically, a cascade develops when it seems rational for some players to abandon their own private information and imitate the actions of earlier players. The risk, however, is that if the initial decisions were wrong, then the whole cascade will be wrong. Nonetheless, information cascade are known to be fragile: there exists a sequence of \emph{revealing} probabilities $\{p_{\ell}\}_{\ell\geq1}$, such that if with probability $p_{\ell}$ player $\ell$ ignores the decisions of previous players, and rely on his private information only, then wrong cascades can be avoided. Previous related papers which study the fragility of information cascades always assume that the revealing probabilities are known to all players perfectly, which might be unrealistic in practice. Accordingly, in this paper we study a mismatch model where players believe that the revealing probabilities are $\{q_\ell\}_{\ell\in\mathbb{N}}$ when they truly are $\{p_\ell\}_{\ell\in\mathbb{N}}$, and study the effect of this mismatch on information cascades. We consider both adversarial and probabilistic sequential decision making models, and derive closed-form expressions for the optimal learning rates at which the error probability associated with a certain decision maker goes to zero. We prove several novel phase transitions in the behaviour of the asymptotic learning rate.

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