Human Semi-Supervised Learning


Correspondence should be sent to Bryan R. Gibson, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1210 W. Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706-1685. E-mail:


Most empirical work in human categorization has studied learning in either fully supervised or fully unsupervised scenarios. Most real-world learning scenarios, however, are semi-supervised: Learners receive a great deal of unlabeled information from the world, coupled with occasional experiences in which items are directly labeled by a knowledgeable source. A large body of work in machine learning has investigated how learning can exploit both labeled and unlabeled data provided to a learner. Using equivalences between models found in human categorization and machine learning research, we explain how these semi-supervised techniques can be applied to human learning. A series of experiments are described which show that semi-supervised learning models prove useful for explaining human behavior when exposed to both labeled and unlabeled data. We then discuss some machine learning models that do not have familiar human categorization counterparts. Finally, we discuss some challenges yet to be addressed in the use of semi-supervised models for modeling human categorization.