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Efficient Planning under Uncertainty with Macro-actions

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Deciding how to act in partially observable environments remains an active area of research. Identifying good sequences of decisions is particularly challenging when good control performance requires planning multiple steps into the future in domains with many states. Towards addressing this challenge, we present an online, forward-search algorithm called the Posterior Belief Distribution (PBD). PBD leverages a novel method for calculating the posterior distribution over beliefs that result after a sequence of actions is taken, given the set of observation sequences that could be received during this process. This method allows us to efficiently evaluate the expected reward of a sequence of primitive actions, which we refer to as macro-actions. We present a formal analysis of our approach, and examine its performance on two very large simulation experiments: scientific exploration and a target monitoring domain. We also demonstrate our algorithm being used to control a real robotic helicopter in a target monitoring experiment, which suggests that our approach has practical potential for planning in real-world, large partially observable domains where a multi-step lookahead is required to achieve good performance.


Efficient Planning under Uncertainty with Macro-actions

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Deciding how to act in partially observable environments remains an active area of research. Identifying good sequences of decisions is particularly challenging when good control performance requires planning multiple steps into the future in domains with many states. Towards addressing this challenge, we present an online, forward-search algorithm called the Posterior Belief Distribution (PBD). PBD leverages a novel method for calculating the posterior distribution over beliefs that result after a sequence of actions is taken, given the set of observation sequences that could be received during this process. This method allows us to efficiently evaluate the expected reward of a sequence of primitive actions, which we refer to as macro-actions. We present a formal analysis of our approach, and examine its performance on two very large simulation experiments: scientific exploration and a target monitoring domain. We also demonstrate our algorithm being used to control a real robotic helicopter in a target monitoring experiment, which suggests that our approach has practical potential for planning in real-world, large partially observable domains where a multi-step lookahead is required to achieve good performance.


Efficient Planning under Uncertainty with Macro-actions

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Deciding how to act in partially observable environments remains an active area of research. Identifying good sequences of decisions is particularly challenging when good control performance requires planning multiple steps into the future in domains with many states. Towards addressing this challenge, we present an online, forward-search algorithm called the Posterior Belief Distribution (PBD). PBD leverages a novel method for calculating the posterior distribution over beliefs that result after a sequence of actions is taken, given the set of observation sequences that could be received during this process. This method allows us to efficiently evaluate the expected reward of a sequence of primitive actions, which we refer to as macro-actions. We present a formal analysis of our approach, and examine its performance on two very large simulation experiments: scientific exploration and a target monitoring domain. We also demonstrate our algorithm being used to control a real robotic helicopter in a target monitoring experiment, which suggests that our approach has practical potential for planning in real-world, large partially observable domains where a multi-step lookahead is required to achieve good performance.


Efficient Planning under Uncertainty with Macro-actions

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Deciding how to act in partially observable environments remains an active area of research. Identifying good sequences of decisions is particularly challenging when good control performance requires planning multiple steps into the future in domains with many states. Towards addressing this challenge, we present an online, forward-search algorithm called the Posterior Belief Distribution (PBD). PBD leverages a novel method for calculating the posterior distribution over beliefs that result after a sequence of actions is taken, given the set of observation sequences that could be received during this process. This method allows us to efficiently evaluate the expected reward of a sequence of primitive actions, which we refer to as macro-actions. We present a formal analysis of our approach, and examine its performance on two very large simulation experiments: scientific exploration and a target monitoring domain. We also demonstrate our algorithm being used to control a real robotic helicopter in a target monitoring experiment, which suggests that our approach has practical potential for planning in real-world, large partially observable domains where a multi-step lookahead is required to achieve good performance.


PUMA: Planning Under Uncertainty with Macro-Actions

AAAI Conferences

Planning in large, partially observable domains is challenging, especially when a long-horizon lookahead is necessary to obtain a good policy. Traditional POMDP planners that plan a different potential action for each future observation can be prohibitively expensive when planning many steps ahead. An efficient solution for planning far into the future in fully observable domains is to use temporally-extended sequences of actions, or "macro-actions." In this paper, we present a POMDP algorithm for planning under uncertainty with macro-actions (PUMA) that automatically constructs and evaluates open-loop macro-actions within forward-search planning, where the planner branches on observations only at the end of each macro-action. Additionally, we show how to incrementally refine the plan over time, resulting in an anytime algorithm that provably converges to an epsilon-optimal policy. In experiments on several large POMDP problems which require a long horizon lookahead, PUMA outperforms existing state-of-the art solvers.