Reinforcement learning (RL) is learning by interacting with an environment. An RL agent learns from the consequences of its actions, rather than from being explicitly taught and it selects its actions on basis of its past experiences (exploitation) and also by new choices (exploration), which is essentially trial and error learning. The reinforcement signal that the RL-agent receives is a numerical reward, which encodes the success of an action's outcome, and the agent seeks to learn to select actions that maximize the accumulated reward over time. In general we are following Marr's approach (Marr et al 1982, later re-introduced by Gurney et al 2004) by introducing different levels: the algorithmic, the mechanistic and the implementation level. The best studied case is when RL can be formulated as class of Markov Decision Problems (MDP). The agent can visit a finite number of states and in visiting a state, a numerical reward will be collected, where negative numbers may represent punishments.

Lorch, Lars, De, Abir, Bhatt, Samir, Trouleau, William, Upadhyay, Utkarsh, Gomez-Rodriguez, Manuel

We approach the development of models and control strategies of susceptible-infected-susceptible (SIS) epidemic processes from the perspective of marked temporal point processes and stochastic optimal control of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) with jumps. In contrast to previous work, this novel perspective is particularly well-suited to make use of fine-grained data about disease outbreaks, and it lets us overcome the shortcomings of current control strategies. Our control strategy resorts to treatment intensities to determine who to treat and when to do so, to minimize the amount of infected individuals over time. Preliminary experiments with synthetic data show that our control strategy consistently outperforms several alternatives. Looking into the future, we believe our methodology provides a promising step towards the development of practical data-driven control strategies of epidemic processes.

Farshidian, Farbod, Hoeller, David, Hutter, Marco

In this paper, we introduce an actor-critic algorithm called Deep Value Model Predictive Control (DMPC), which combines model-based trajectory optimization with value function estimation. The DMPC actor is a Model Predictive Control (MPC) optimizer with an objective function defined in terms of a value function estimated by the critic. We show that our MPC actor is an importance sampler, which minimizes an upper bound of the cross-entropy to the state distribution of the optimal sampling policy. In our experiments with a Ballbot system, we show that our algorithm can work with sparse and binary reward signals to efficiently solve obstacle avoidance and target reaching tasks. Compared to previous work, we show that including the value function in the running cost of the trajectory optimizer speeds up the convergence. We also discuss the necessary strategies to robustify the algorithm in practice.

Wang, Ziyi, Lee, Keuntaek, Pereira, Marcus A., Exarchos, Ioannis, Theodorou, Evangelos A.

This paper presents a novel approach to numerically solve stochastic differential games for nonlinear systems. The proposed approach relies on the nonlinear Feynman-Kac theorem that establishes a connection between parabolic deterministic partial differential equations and forward-backward stochastic differential equations. Using this theorem the Hamilton-Jacobi-Isaacs partial differential equation associated with differential games is represented by a system of forward-backward stochastic differential equations. Numerical solution of the aforementioned system of stochastic differential equations is performed using importance sampling and a Long-Short Term Memory recurrent neural network, which is trained in an offline fashion. The resulting algorithm is tested on two example systems in simulation and compared against the standard risk neutral stochastic optimal control formulations.

Gajane, Pratik, Urvoy, Tanguy, Kaufmann, Emilie

We study a variant of the stochastic multi-armed bandit (MAB) problem in which the rewards are corrupted. In this framework, motivated by privacy preservation in online recommender systems, the goal is to maximize the sum of the (unobserved) rewards, based on the observation of transformation of these rewards through a stochastic corruption process with known parameters. We provide a lower bound on the expected regret of any bandit algorithm in this corrupted setting. We devise a frequentist algorithm, KLUCB-CF, and a Bayesian algorithm, TS-CF and give upper bounds on their regret. We also provide the appropriate corruption parameters to guarantee a desired level of local privacy and analyze how this impacts the regret. Finally, we present some experimental results that confirm our analysis.