The problem of expensive chunks and its solution by restricting expressiveness.

Tambe, M. | Newell, A. | Rosenbloom, P. S.


"Chunking, a simple experience-based learning mechanism, is Soar's only learning mechanism. Chunking creates new items of information, called chunks, based on the results of problem-solving and stores them in the knowledge base. These chunks are accessed and used in appropriate later situations to avoid the problem-solving required to determine them. It is already well-established that chunking improves performance in Soar when viewed in terms of the subproblems required and the number of steps within a subproblem. However, despite the reduction in number of steps, sometimes there may be a severe degradation in the total run time. This problem arises due to expensive chunks, i.e., chunks that require a large amount of effort in accessing them from the knowledge base. They pose a major problem for Soar, since in their presence, no guarantees can be given about Soar's performance.In this article, we establish that expensive chunks exist and analyze their causes. We use this analysis to propose a solution for expensive chunks. The solution is based on the notion of restricting the expressiveness of the representational language to guarantee that the chunks formed will require only a limited amount of accessing effort. We analyze the tradeoffs involved in restricting expressiveness and present some empirical evidence to support our analysis."Machine Learning, 5, 299-348.