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Reinforcement Learning in Healthcare: A Survey

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

As a subfield of machine learning, \emph{reinforcement learning} (RL) aims at empowering one's capabilities in behavioural decision making by using interaction experience with the world and an evaluative feedback. Unlike traditional supervised learning methods that usually rely on one-shot, exhaustive and supervised reward signals, RL tackles with sequential decision making problems with sampled, evaluative and delayed feedback simultaneously. Such distinctive features make RL technique a suitable candidate for developing powerful solutions in a variety of healthcare domains, where diagnosing decisions or treatment regimes are usually characterized by a prolonged and sequential procedure. This survey will discuss the broad applications of RL techniques in healthcare domains, in order to provide the research community with systematic understanding of theoretical foundations, enabling methods and techniques, existing challenges, and new insights of this emerging paradigm. By first briefly examining theoretical foundations and key techniques in RL research from efficient and representational directions, we then provide an overview of RL applications in a variety of healthcare domains, ranging from dynamic treatment regimes in chronic diseases and critical care, automated medical diagnosis from both unstructured and structured clinical data, as well as many other control or scheduling domains that have infiltrated many aspects of a healthcare system. Finally, we summarize the challenges and open issues in current research, and point out some potential solutions and directions for future research.


Applications of Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning to Biological Data

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Rapid advances of hardware-based technologies during the past decades have opened up new possibilities for Life scientists to gather multimodal data in various application domains (e.g., Omics, Bioimaging, Medical Imaging, and [Brain/Body]-Machine Interfaces), thus generating novel opportunities for development of dedicated data intensive machine learning techniques. Overall, recent research in Deep learning (DL), Reinforcement learning (RL), and their combination (Deep RL) promise to revolutionize Artificial Intelligence. The growth in computational power accompanied by faster and increased data storage and declining computing costs have already allowed scientists in various fields to apply these techniques on datasets that were previously intractable for their size and complexity. This review article provides a comprehensive survey on the application of DL, RL, and Deep RL techniques in mining Biological data. In addition, we compare performances of DL techniques when applied to different datasets across various application domains. Finally, we outline open issues in this challenging research area and discuss future development perspectives.


Bayesian Control of Large MDPs with Unknown Dynamics in Data-Poor Environments

Neural Information Processing Systems

We propose a Bayesian decision making framework for control of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) with unknown dynamics and large, possibly continuous, state, action, and parameter spaces in data-poor environments. Most of the existing adaptive controllers for MDPs with unknown dynamics are based on the reinforcement learning framework and rely on large data sets acquired by sustained direct interaction with the system or via a simulator. This is not feasible in many applications, due to ethical, economic, and physical constraints. The proposed framework addresses the data poverty issue by decomposing the problem into an offline planning stage that does not rely on sustained direct interaction with the system or simulator and an online execution stage. In the offline process, parallel Gaussian process temporal difference (GPTD) learning techniques are employed for near-optimal Bayesian approximation of the expected discounted reward over a sample drawn from the prior distribution of unknown parameters. In the online stage, the action with the maximum expected return with respect to the posterior distribution of the parameters is selected. This is achieved by an approximation of the posterior distribution using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm, followed by constructing multiple Gaussian processes over the parameter space for efficient prediction of the means of the expected return at the MCMC sample. The effectiveness of the proposed framework is demonstrated using a simple dynamical system model with continuous state and action spaces, as well as a more complex model for a metastatic melanoma gene regulatory network observed through noisy synthetic gene expression data.


The Blessings of Multiple Causes

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Causal inference from observation data often assumes "strong ignorability," that all confounders are observed. This assumption is standard yet untestable. However, many scientific studies involve multiple causes, different variables whose effects are simultaneously of interest. We propose the deconfounder, an algorithm that combines unsupervised machine learning and predictive model checking to perform causal inference in multiple-cause settings. The deconfounder infers a latent variable as a substitute for unobserved confounders and then uses that substitute to perform causal inference. We develop theory for when the deconfounder leads to unbiased causal estimates, and show that it requires weaker assumptions than classical causal inference. We analyze its performance in three types of studies: semi-simulated data around smoking and lung cancer, semi-simulated data around genomewide association studies, and a real dataset about actors and movie revenue. The deconfounder provides a checkable approach to estimating close-to-truth causal effects.