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An approach to the design of reinforcement functions in real world, agent-based applications

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3 Author(s)
A. Bonarini ; Robotics Project, Politecnico di Milano, Italy ; C. Bonacina ; M. Matteucci

The success of any reinforcement learning (RL) application is in large part due to the design of an appropriate reinforcement function. A methodological framework to support the design of reinforcement functions has not been defined yet, and this critical and often underestimated activity is left to the ability of the RL application designer. We propose an approach to support reinforcement function design in RL applications concerning learning behaviors for autonomous agents. We define some dimensions along which we can describe reinforcement functions; we consider the distribution of reinforcement values, their coherence and their matching with the designer's perspective. We give hints to define measures that objectively describe the reinforcement function; we discuss the trade-offs that should be considered to improve learning and we introduce the dimensions along which this improvement can be expected. The approach we are presenting is general enough to be adopted in a large number of RL projects. We show how to apply it in the design of learning classifier systems (LCS) applications. We consider a simple, but quite complete case study in evolutionary robotics, and we discuss reinforcement function design issues in this sample context

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part B (Cybernetics)  (Volume:31 ,  Issue: 3 )