Reinforcement learning has traditionally occupied a niche status in the world of artificial intelligence. But reinforcement learning has started to assume a larger role in many AI initiatives in the past few years. Its application sweet spot is in calculation of optimal actions to be taken by agents in environmentally contextualized decision scenarios.
The flurry of headlines surrounding AlphaGo Zero (the most recent version of DeepMind's AI system for playing Go) means interest in reinforcement learning (RL) is bound to increase. Next to deep learning, RL is among the most followed topics in AI. For most companies, RL is something to investigate and evaluate but few organizations have identified use cases where RL may play a role. As we enter 2018, I want to briefly describe areas where RL has been applied. RL is confusingly used to refer to a set of problems and a set of techniques, so let's first settle on what RL will mean for the rest of this post.
While Convolution Neural Network (CNN) and Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) are becoming more important for businesses due to their applications in Computer Vision (CV) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), Reinforcement Learning (RL) as a framework for computational neuroscience to model decision making process seems to be undervalued. Besides, there seems to be very little resources detailing how RL is applied in different industries. Despite the criticisms about RL's weaknesses, RL should never be neglected in the space of corporate research given its huge potentials in assisting decision making. Therefore, this article aims to 1)investigate the breadth and depth of RL applications in real world; 2)view RL from different aspects; and 3)persuade the decision makers and researchers to put more efforts on RL research. The rest of the article is organized as follows.
From microelectronics to mechanics and machine learning, the modern-day robots are a marvel of multiple engineering disciplines. They use sensors, image processing and reinforcement learning algorithms to move the objects around and move around the obstacles as well. However, this is not the case when it comes to handling objects such as glass. The surface properties of glass are transparent, and non-uniform light reflection makes it difficult for the sensors mounted on the robot to understand how to engage in a simple pick and place operation. To address this problem, researchers at Google AI along with Synthesis AI and Columbia University devised a novel machine-learning algorithm called ClearGrasp, that is capable of estimating accurate 3D data of transparent objects from RGB-D images.
"A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style" is very intuitive to understand and not terribly difficult to get going. Plus you don't need crazy hardware as you work with pre-trained models. "Human Level Control Through Deep Reinforcement Learning" is much more complicated, but very rewarding when you get it right as you can watch a machine learn to play your favorite childhood games. And, you'll get a strong grasp of your framework of choice, good debugging techniques, and how to effectively leverage training time on a back-end.