Point-Based Planning for Multi-Objective POMDPs

AAAI Conferences

Many sequential decision-making problems require an agent to reason about both multiple objectives and uncertainty regarding the environment's state. Such problems can be naturally modelled as multi-objective partially observable Markov decision processes (MOPOMDPs). We propose optimistic linear support with alpha reuse (OLSAR), which computes a bounded approximation of the optimal solution set for all possible weightings of the objectives. The main idea is to solve a series of scalarized single-objective POMDPs, each corresponding to a different weighting of the objectives. A key insight underlying OLSAR is that the policies and value functions produced when solving scalarized POMDPs in earlier iterations can be reused to more quickly solve scalarized POMDPs in later iterations. We show experimentally that OLSAR outperforms, both in terms of runtime and approximation quality, alternative methods and a variant of OLSAR that does not leverage reuse.


Computing Convex Coverage Sets for Faster Multi-objective Coordination

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In this article, we propose new algorithms for multi-objective coordination graphs (MO-CoGs). Key to the efficiency of these algorithms is that they compute a convex coverage set (CCS) instead of a Pareto coverage set (PCS). Not only is a CCS a sufficient solution set for a large class of problems, it also has important characteristics that facilitate more efficient solutions. We propose two main algorithms for computing a CCS in MO-CoGs. Convex multi-objective variable elimination (CMOVE) computes a CCS by performing a series of agent eliminations, which can be seen as solving a series of local multi-objective subproblems. Variable elimination linear support (VELS) iteratively identifies the single weight vector, w, that can lead to the maximal possible improvement on a partial CCS and calls variable elimination to solve a scalarized instance of the problem for w. VELS is faster than CMOVE for small and medium numbers of objectives and can compute an ε-approximate CCS in a fraction of the runtime. In addition, we propose variants of these methods that employ AND/OR tree search instead of variable elimination to achieve memory efficiency. We analyze the runtime and space complexities of these methods, prove their correctness, and compare them empirically against a naive baseline and an existing PCS method, both in terms of memory-usage and runtime. Our results show that, by focusing on the CCS, these methods achieve much better scalability in the number of agents than the current state of the art.


A Survey of Multi-Objective Sequential Decision-Making

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Sequential decision-making problems with multiple objectives arise naturally in practice and pose unique challenges for research in decision-theoretic planning and learning, which has largely focused on single-objective settings. This article surveys algorithms designed for sequential decision-making problems with multiple objectives. Though there is a growing body of literature on this subject, little of it makes explicit under what circumstances special methods are needed to solve multi-objective problems. Therefore, we identify three distinct scenarios in which converting such a problem to a single-objective one is impossible, infeasible, or undesirable. Furthermore, we propose a taxonomy that classifies multi-objective methods according to the applicable scenario, the nature of the scalarization function (which projects multi-objective values to scalar ones), and the type of policies considered. We show how these factors determine the nature of an optimal solution, which can be a single policy, a convex hull, or a Pareto front. Using this taxonomy, we survey the literature on multi-objective methods for planning and learning. Finally, we discuss key applications of such methods and outline opportunities for future work.


Bounded Approximations for Linear Multi-Objective Planning Under Uncertainty

AAAI Conferences

Planning under uncertainty poses a complex problem in which multiple objectives often need to be balanced. When dealing with multiple objectives, it is often assumed that the relative importance of the objectives is known a priori. However, in practice human decision makers often find it hard to specify such preferences, and would prefer a decision support system that presents a range of possible alternatives. We propose two algorithms for computing these alternatives for the case of linearly weighted objectives. First, we propose an anytime method, approximate optimistic linear support (AOLS), that incrementally builds up a complete set of ε-optimal plans, exploiting the piecewise linear and convex shape of the value function. Second, we propose an approximate anytime method, scalarised sample incremental improvement (SSII), that employs weight sampling to focus on the most interesting regions in weight space, as suggested by a prior over preferences. We show empirically that our methods are able to produce (near-)optimal alternative sets orders of magnitude faster than existing techniques.


Multi-Objective Multi-Agent Decision Making: A Utility-based Analysis and Survey

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The majority of multi-agent system (MAS) implementations aim to optimise agents' policies with respect to a single objective, despite the fact that many real-world problem domains are inherently multi-objective in nature. Multi-objective multi-agent systems (MOMAS) explicitly consider the possible trade-offs between conflicting objective functions. We argue that, in MOMAS, such compromises should be analysed on the basis of the utility that these compromises have for the users of a system. As is standard in multi-objective optimisation, we model the user utility using utility functions that map value or return vectors to scalar values. This approach naturally leads to two different optimisation criteria: expected scalarised returns (ESR) and scalarised expected returns (SER). We develop a new taxonomy which classifies multi-objective multi-agent decision making settings, on the basis of the reward structures, and which and how utility functions are applied. This allows us to offer a structured view of the field, to clearly delineate the current state-of-the-art in multi-objective multi-agent decision making approaches and to identify promising directions for future research. Starting from the execution phase, in which the selected policies are applied and the utility for the users is attained, we analyse which solution concepts apply to the different settings in our taxonomy. Furthermore, we define and discuss these solution concepts under both ESR and SER optimisation criteria. We conclude with a summary of our main findings and a discussion of many promising future research directions in multi-objective multi-agent systems.