Ideal observer analysis is a method for investigating how information is processed in a perceptual system. It is also a basic principle that guides modern research in perception.
The ideal observer is a theoretical system that performs a specific task in an optimal way. If there is uncertainty in the task, then perfect performance is impossible and the ideal observer will make errors.
Ideal performance is the theoretical upper limit of performance. It is theoretically impossible for a real system to perform better than ideal. Typically, real systems are only capable of sub-ideal performance.
This technique is useful for analyzing psychophysical data (see psychophysics).
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