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A high-bias, low-variance introduction to Machine Learning for physicists

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Machine Learning (ML) is one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of modern research and application. The purpose of this review is to provide an introduction to the core concepts and tools of machine learning in a manner easily understood and intuitive to physicists. The review begins by covering fundamental concepts in ML and modern statistics such as the bias-variance tradeoff, overfitting, regularization, and generalization before moving on to more advanced topics in both supervised and unsupervised learning. Topics covered in the review include ensemble models, deep learning and neural networks, clustering and data visualization, energy-based models (including MaxEnt models and Restricted Boltzmann Machines), and variational methods. Throughout, we emphasize the many natural connections between ML and statistical physics. A notable aspect of the review is the use of Python notebooks to introduce modern ML/statistical packages to readers using physics-inspired datasets (the Ising Model and Monte-Carlo simulations of supersymmetric decays of proton-proton collisions). We conclude with an extended outlook discussing possible uses of machine learning for furthering our understanding of the physical world as well as open problems in ML where physicists maybe able to contribute. (Notebooks are available at https://physics.bu.edu/~pankajm/MLnotebooks.html )


Deep Reinforcement Learning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We discuss deep reinforcement learning in an overview style. We draw a big picture, filled with details. We discuss six core elements, six important mechanisms, and twelve applications, focusing on contemporary work, and in historical contexts. We start with background of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and reinforcement learning (RL), with resources. Next we discuss RL core elements, including value function, policy, reward, model, exploration vs. exploitation, and representation. Then we discuss important mechanisms for RL, including attention and memory, unsupervised learning, hierarchical RL, multi-agent RL, relational RL, and learning to learn. After that, we discuss RL applications, including games, robotics, natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, finance, business management, healthcare, education, energy, transportation, computer systems, and, science, engineering, and art. Finally we summarize briefly, discuss challenges and opportunities, and close with an epilogue.


A Monte-Carlo AIXI Approximation

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

This paper introduces a principled approach for the design of a scalable general reinforcement learning agent. Our approach is based on a direct approximation of AIXI, a Bayesian optimality notion for general reinforcement learning agents. Previously, it has been unclear whether the theory of AIXI could motivate the design of practical algorithms. We answer this hitherto open question in the affirmative, by providing the first computationally feasible approximation to the AIXI agent. To develop our approximation, we introduce a new Monte-Carlo Tree Search algorithm along with an agent-specific extension to the Context Tree Weighting algorithm. Empirically, we present a set of encouraging results on a variety of stochastic and partially observable domains. We conclude by proposing a number of directions for future research.


Scalable and Efficient Bayes-Adaptive Reinforcement Learning Based on Monte-Carlo Tree Search

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Bayesian planning is a formally elegant approach to learning optimal behaviour under model uncertainty, trading off exploration and exploitation in an ideal way. Unfortunately, planning optimally in the face of uncertainty is notoriously taxing, since the search space is enormous. In this paper we introduce a tractable, sample-based method for approximate Bayes-optimal planning which exploits Monte-Carlo tree search. Our approach avoids expensive applications of Bayes rule within the search tree by sampling models from current beliefs, and furthermore performs this sampling in a lazy manner. This enables it to outperform previous Bayesian model-based reinforcement learning algorithms by a significant margin on several well-known benchmark problems. As we show, our approach can even work in problems with an infinite state space that lie qualitatively out of reach of almost all previous work in Bayesian exploration.