Context-aware hierarchical online learning for performance maximization in mobile crowdsourcing
Muller, S. K.
IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
1334 - 1347
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In mobile crowdsourcing (MCS), mobile users accomplish outsourced human intelligence tasks. MCS requires an appropriate task assignment strategy, since different workers may have different performance in terms of acceptance rate and quality. Task assignment is challenging, since a worker's performance 1) may fluctuate, depending on both the worker's current personal context and the task context and 2) is not known a priori, but has to be learned over time. Moreover, learning context-specific worker performance requires access to context information, which may not be available at a central entity due to communication overhead or privacy concerns. In addition, evaluating worker performance might require costly quality assessments. In this paper, we propose a context-aware hierarchical online learning algorithm addressing the problem of performance maximization in MCS. In our algorithm, a local controller (LC) in the mobile device of a worker regularly observes the worker's context, her/his decisions to accept or decline tasks and the quality in completing tasks. Based on these observations, the LC regularly estimates the worker's context-specific performance. The mobile crowdsourcing platform (MCSP) then selects workers based on performance estimates received from the LCs. This hierarchical approach enables the LCs to learn context-specific worker performance and it enables the MCSP to select suitable workers. In addition, our algorithm preserves worker context locally, and it keeps the number of required quality assessments low. We prove that our algorithm converges to the optimal task assignment strategy. Moreover, the algorithm outperforms simpler task assignment strategies in experiments based on synthetic and real data.