On amount and quality of bias in reinforcement learning

G. Hailu, G. Sommer
IEEE SMC'99 Conference Proceedings. 1999 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (Cat. No.99CH37028)  
Reinforcement learning is widely regarded as elegant in theory but hopelessly slow in practice. This is because it is often studied under the assumption that there is little or no prior information about the task at hand. This assumption, however, is not the defining characteristic of learning. Learning involves the incorporation of prior knowledge or bias that can greatly accelerates or otherwise improves the learning process. In this paper we address the influence of the amount and quality of
more » ... ount and quality of bias on the speed of reinforcement learning. For a chosen class of learning problem different forms of biases are initially identified. Some of the bias are extracted from the knowledge of the environment, others from the task, and yet a few from both. Belief matrices, which reset Q-tables before learning commences, encode the biases. The average number of interactions between the agent and the environment is used to quantify the biases. Based on this performance measure, the biases are graded and some new results are reported. In addition, the paper compares continual learning to learning from scratch and presents results that clearly demonstrate the advantages of the former.
doi:10.1109/icsmc.1999.825352 fatcat:ebl4mxxl65f3zmvrkw5x2klqra