Distributed Hypothesis Testing With Social Learning and Symmetric Fusion
We show that social learning is not useful in a model of team binary decision making by voting, where each vote carries equal weight. Specifically, we consider Bayesian binary hypothesis testing where agents have any conditionally-independent observation distribution and their local decisions are fused by any L-out-of-N fusion rule. The agents make local decisions sequentially, with each allowed to use its own private signal and all precedent local decisions. Though social learning generally occurs in that precedent local decisions affect an agent's belief, optimal team performance is obtained when all precedent local decisions are ignored. Thus, social learning is futile, and secret ballots are optimal. This conclusion contrasts with typical studies of social learning because we include a fusion center rather than concentrating on the performance of the latest-acting agents.