Planning & Scheduling

Monte-Carlo Planning in Large POMDPs

Neural Information Processing Systems

This paper introduces a Monte-Carlo algorithm for online planning in large POMDPs. The algorithm combines a Monte-Carlo update of the agent's belief state with a Monte-Carlo tree search from the current belief state. The new algorithm, POMCP, has two important properties. First, Monte-Carlo sampling is used to break the curse of dimensionality both during belief state updates and during planning. Second, only a black box simulator of the POMDP is required, rather than explicit probability distributions.

Variance Reduction in Monte-Carlo Tree Search

Neural Information Processing Systems

Monte-Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) has proven to be a powerful, generic planning technique for decision-making in single-agent and adversarial environments. The stochastic nature of the Monte-Carlo simulations introduces errors in the value estimates, both in terms of bias and variance. Whilst reducing bias (typically through the addition of domain knowledge) has been studied in the MCTS literature, comparatively little effort has focused on reducing variance. This is somewhat surprising, since variance reduction techniques are a well-studied area in classical statistics. In this paper, we examine the application of some standard techniques for variance reduction in MCTS, including common random numbers, antithetic variates and control variates.

2020 and Beyond - HRO Today


HR leaders predict how cultural, social, and technological shifts will impact the way people work in the coming year. Not too long ago, HR professionals were relegated to the realm of "personnel management"--paper-pushers responsible for administrative tasks and little else. But as organizations have grown and globalized in increasingly challenging environments, so has the role of human resources. Today's HR departments are deeply rooted in organizational planning and business strategy, more essential to the success of a company than ever before. HR leaders have made their way to the C-suite, guiding strategies that unite the goals of a business under one umbrella: talent.

Action-Model Based Multi-agent Plan Recognition

Neural Information Processing Systems

Multi-Agent Plan Recognition (MAPR) aims to recognize dynamic team structures and team behaviors from the observed team traces (activity sequences) of a set of intelligent agents. Previous MAPR approaches required a library of team activity sequences (team plans) be given as input. However, collecting a library of team plans to ensure adequate coverage is often difficult and costly. In this paper, we relax this constraint, so that team plans are not required to be provided beforehand. We assume instead that a set of action models are available.

Variational Planning for Graph-based MDPs

Neural Information Processing Systems

Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) are extremely useful for modeling and solving sequential decision making problems. Graph-based MDPs provide a compact representation for MDPs with large numbers of random variables. However, the complexity of exactly solving a graph-based MDP usually grows exponentially in the number of variables, which limits their application. We present a new variational framework to describe and solve the planning problem of MDPs, and derive both exact and approximate planning algorithms. In particular, by exploiting the graph structure of graph-based MDPs, we propose a factored variational value iteration algorithm in which the value function is first approximated by the multiplication of local-scope value functions, then solved by minimizing a Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence.

Maximum Entropy Monte-Carlo Planning

Neural Information Processing Systems

We develop a new algorithm for online planning in large scale sequential decision problems that improves upon the worst case efficiency of UCT. The idea is to augment Monte-Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) with maximum entropy policy optimization, evaluating each search node by softmax values back-propagated from simulation. To establish the effectiveness of this approach, we first investigate the single-step decision problem, stochastic softmax bandits, and show that softmax values can be estimated at an optimal convergence rate in terms of mean squared error. We then extend this approach to general sequential decision making by developing a general MCTS algorithm, Maximum Entropy for Tree Search (MENTS). We prove that the probability of MENTS failing to identify the best decision at the root decays exponentially, which fundamentally improves the polynomial convergence rate of UCT.

Convergence of Monte Carlo Tree Search in Simultaneous Move Games

Neural Information Processing Systems

In this paper, we study Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS) in zero-sum extensive-form games with perfect information and simultaneous moves. We present a general template of MCTS algorithms for these games, which can be instantiated by various selection methods. We formally prove that if a selection method is $\epsilon$-Hannan consistent in a matrix game and satisfies additional requirements on exploration, then the MCTS algorithm eventually converges to an approximate Nash equilibrium (NE) of the extensive-form game. We empirically evaluate this claim using regret matching and Exp3 as the selection methods on randomly generated and worst case games. We confirm the formal result and show that additional MCTS variants also converge to approximate NE on the evaluated games.

Bayesian Mixture Modelling and Inference based Thompson Sampling in Monte-Carlo Tree Search

Neural Information Processing Systems

Monte-Carlo tree search is drawing great interest in the domain of planning under uncertainty, particularly when little or no domain knowledge is available. One of the central problems is the trade-off between exploration and exploitation. In this paper we present a novel Bayesian mixture modelling and inference based Thompson sampling approach to addressing this dilemma. The proposed Dirichlet-NormalGamma MCTS (DNG-MCTS) algorithm represents the uncertainty of the accumulated reward for actions in the MCTS search tree as a mixture of Normal distributions and inferences on it in Bayesian settings by choosing conjugate priors in the form of combinations of Dirichlet and NormalGamma distributions. Thompson sampling is used to select the best action at each decision node.

Monte-Carlo Tree Search for Constrained POMDPs

Neural Information Processing Systems

Monte-Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) has been successfully applied to very large POMDPs, a standard model for stochastic sequential decision-making problems. However, many real-world problems inherently have multiple goals, where multi-objective formulations are more natural. The constrained POMDP (CPOMDP) is such a model that maximizes the reward while constraining the cost, extending the standard POMDP model. To date, solution methods for CPOMDPs assume an explicit model of the environment, and thus are hardly applicable to large-scale real-world problems. In this paper, we present CC-POMCP (Cost-Constrained POMCP), an online MCTS algorithm for large CPOMDPs that leverages the optimization of LP-induced parameters and only requires a black-box simulator of the environment.

M-Walk: Learning to Walk over Graphs using Monte Carlo Tree Search

Neural Information Processing Systems

Learning to walk over a graph towards a target node for a given query and a source node is an important problem in applications such as knowledge base completion (KBC). It can be formulated as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem with a known state transition model. To overcome the challenge of sparse rewards, we develop a graph-walking agent called M-Walk, which consists of a deep recurrent neural network (RNN) and Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS). The RNN encodes the state (i.e., history of the walked path) and maps it separately to a policy and Q-values. In order to effectively train the agent from sparse rewards, we combine MCTS with the neural policy to generate trajectories yielding more positive rewards.