Classification in the Wild: The Science and Art of Transparent Decision Making

Konstantinos Katsikopoulos, Özgür Şimşek, Marcus Buckmann, Gerd Gigerenzer

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book focuses on classification—allocating objects into categories—“in the wild,” in real-world situations and far from the certainty of the lab. In the wild, unlike in typical psychological experiments, the future is not knowable and uncertainty cannot be meaningfully reduced to probability. Connecting the science of heuristics with machine learning, the book shows how to create formal models using classification rules that are simple, fast, and transparent and that can be as accurate as mathematically sophisticated algorithms developed for machine learning.

The authors—whose individual expertise ranges from empirical psychology to mathematical modeling to artificial intelligence and data science—offer real-world examples, including voting, HIV screening, and magistrate decision making; present an accessible guide to inducing the models statistically; compare the performance of such models to machine learning algorithms when applied to problems that include predicting diabetes or bank failure; and discuss conceptual and historical connections to cognitive psychology. Finally, they analyze such challenging safety-related applications as decreasing civilian casualties in checkpoints and regulating investment banks.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMIT Press
Number of pages208
ISBN (Print)9780262045155
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Machine Learning
  • Decision heuristics
  • Bounded Rationality
  • Classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Artificial Intelligence


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