Solomonoff induction is held as a gold standard for learning, but it is known to be incomputable. We quantify its incomputability by placing various flavors of Solomonoff's prior M in the arithmetical hierarchy. We also derive computability bounds for knowledge-seeking agents, and give a limit-computable weakly asymptotically optimal reinforcement learning agent.
Reinforcement learners are agents that learn to pick actions that lead to high reward. Ideally, the value of a reinforcement learner's policy approaches optimality--where the optimal informed policy is the one which maximizes reward. Unfortunately, we show that if an agent is guaranteed to be "asymptotically optimal" in any (stochastically computable) environment, then subject to an assumption about the true environment, this agent will be either destroyed or incapacitated with probability 1; both of these are forms of traps as understood in the Markov Decision Process literature. Environments with traps pose a well-known problem for agents, but we are unaware of other work which shows that traps are not only a risk, but a certainty, for agents of a certain caliber. Much work in reinforcement learning uses an ergodicity assumption to avoid this problem. Often, doing theoretical research under simplifying assumptions prepares us to provide practical solutions even in the absence of those assumptions, but the ergodicity assumption in reinforcement learning may have led us entirely astray in preparing safe and effective exploration strategies for agents in dangerous environments. Rather than assuming away the problem, we present an agent with the modest guarantee of approaching the performance of a mentor, doing safe exploration instead of reckless exploration.
We discuss a variant of Thompson sampling for nonparametric reinforcement learning in a countable classes of general stochastic environments. These environments can be non-Markov, non-ergodic, and partially observable. We show that Thompson sampling learns the environment class in the sense that (1) asymptotically its value converges to the optimal value in mean and (2) given a recoverability assumption regret is sublinear.
Reinforcement Learning agents are expected to eventually perform well. Typically, this takes the form of a guarantee about the asymptotic behavior of an algorithm given some assumptions about the environment. We present an algorithm for a policy whose value approaches the optimal value with probability 1 in all computable probabilistic environments, provided the agent has a bounded horizon. This is known as strong asymptotic optimality, and it was previously unknown whether it was possible for a policy to be strongly asymptotically optimal in the class of all computable probabilistic environments. Our agent, Inquisitive Reinforcement Learner (Inq), is more likely to explore the more it expects an exploratory action to reduce its uncertainty about which environment it is in, hence the term inquisitive. Exploring inquisitively is a strategy that can be applied generally; for more manageable environment classes, inquisitiveness is tractable. We conducted experiments in "grid-worlds" to compare the Inquisitive Reinforcement Learner to other weakly asymptotically optimal agents.