Probabilistic Policy Reuse in Reinforcement Learning

Fernando Fernandez Rebollo


We contribute Policy Reuse as a technique to improve a reinforcement learner with guidance from past learned similar policies. Our method relies on using the past policies in a novel way as a probabilistic bias where the learner faces three choices: the exploitation of the ongoing learned policy, the exploration of random unexplored actions, and the exploitation of past policies. We introduce the algorithm and its major components: an exploration strategy to include the new reuse bias, and a similarity metric to estimate the similarity of past policies with respect to a new one. We provide empirical results demonstrating that Policy Reuse improves the learning performance over different strategies that learn without reuse. Policy Reuse further contributes the learning of the structure of a domain. Interestingly and almost as a side effect, Policy Reuse identifies classes of similar policies revealing a basis of "eigen-policies" of the domain. In general, Policy Reuse contributes to the overall goal of lifelong reinforcement learning, as (i) it incrementally builds a policy library; (ii) it provides a mechanism to reuse past policies; and (iii) it learns an abstract domain structure in terms of eigen-policies of the domain. This is joint work with Prof. Manuela Veloso.

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Pradeep Ravikumar
Last modified: Sun Dec 4 02:04:53 EST 2005