Nicod's criterion states that observing a black raven is evidence for the hypothesis H that all ravens are black. We show that Solomonoff induction does not satisfy Nicod's criterion: there are time steps in which observing black ravens decreases the belief in H. Moreover, while observing any computable infinite string compatible with H, the belief in H decreases infinitely often when using the unnormalized Solomonoff prior, but only finitely often when using the normalized Solomonoff prior. We argue that the fault is not with Solomonoff induction; instead we should reject Nicod's criterion.
Decision theory formally solves the problem of rational agents in uncertain worlds if the true environmental probability distribution is known. Solomonoff's theory of universal induction formally solves the problem of sequence prediction for unknown distribution. We unify both theories and give strong arguments that the resulting universal AIXI model behaves optimal in any computable environment. The major drawback of the AIXI model is that it is uncomputable. To overcome this problem, we construct a modified algorithm AIXI^tl, which is still superior to any other time t and space l bounded agent. The computation time of AIXI^tl is of the order t x 2^l.
Solomonoff's central result on induction is that the posterior of a universal semimeasure M converges rapidly and with probability 1 to the true sequence generating posterior mu, if the latter is computable. Hence, M is eligible as a universal sequence predictor in case of unknown mu. Despite some nearby results and proofs in the literature, the stronger result of convergence for all (Martin-Loef) random sequences remained open. Such a convergence result would be particularly interesting and natural, since randomness can be defined in terms of M itself. We show that there are universal semimeasures M which do not converge for all random sequences, i.e. we give a partial negative answer to the open problem. We also provide a positive answer for some non-universal semimeasures. We define the incomputable measure D as a mixture over all computable measures and the enumerable semimeasure W as a mixture over all enumerable nearly-measures. We show that W converges to D and D to mu on all random sequences. The Hellinger distance measuring closeness of two distributions plays a central role.
The Bayesian framework is a well-studied and successful framework for inductive reasoning, which includes hypothesis testing and confirmation, parameter estimation, sequence prediction, classification, and regression. But standard statistical guidelines for choosing the model class and prior are not always available or fail, in particular in complex situations. Solomonoff completed the Bayesian framework by providing a rigorous, unique, formal, and universal choice for the model class and the prior. We discuss in breadth how and in which sense universal (non-i.i.d.) sequence prediction solves various (philosophical) problems of traditional Bayesian sequence prediction. We show that Solomonoff's model possesses many desirable properties: Strong total and weak instantaneous bounds, and in contrast to most classical continuous prior densities has no zero p(oste)rior problem, i.e. can confirm universal hypotheses, is reparametrization and regrouping invariant, and avoids the old-evidence and updating problem. It even performs well (actually better) in non-computable environments.