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Delayed Reward


In the general case of the reinforcement learning problem, the agent's actions determine not only its immediate reward, but also (at least probabilistically) the next state of the environment. Such environments can be thought of as networks of bandit problems, but the agent must take into account the next state as well as the immediate reward when it decides which action to take. The model of long-run optimality the agent is using determines exactly how it should take the value of the future into account. The agent will have to be able to learn from delayed reinforcement: it may take a long sequence of actions, receiving insignificant reinforcement, then finally arrive at a state with high reinforcement. The agent must be able to learn which of its actions are desirable based on reward that can take place arbitrarily far in the future.

Leslie Pack Kaelbling
Wed May 1 13:19:13 EDT 1996