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Conference Paper

Predictive Representations for Policy Gradient in POMDPs


Boularias,  A
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Boularias, A. (2009). Predictive Representations for Policy Gradient in POMDPs. Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2009), 65-72.

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We consider the problem of estimating the policy gradient in Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs) with a special class of policies that are based on Predictive State Representations (PSRs). We compare PSR policies to Finite-State Controllers (FSCs), which are considered as a standard model for policy gradient methods in POMDPs. We present a general Actor- Critic algorithm for learning both FSCs and PSR policies. The critic part computes a value function that has as variables the parameters of the policy. These latter parameters are gradually updated to maximize the value function. We show that the value function is polynomial for both FSCs and PSR policies, with a potentially smaller degree in the case of PSR policies. Therefore, the value function of a PSR policy can have less local optima than the equivalent FSC, and consequently, the gradient algorithm is more likely to converge to a global optimal solution.