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We describe a new framework for applying reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms to solve classification tasks by letting an agent act on the inputs and learn value functions. This paper describes how classification problems can be modeled using classification Markov decision processes and introduces the Max-Min ACLA algorithm, an extension of the novel RL algorithm called actor-critic learning automaton (ACLA). Experiments are performed using 8 datasets from the UCI repository, where our RL method is combined with multi-layer perceptrons that serve as function approximators. The RL method is compared to conventional multi-layer perceptrons and support vector machines and the results show that our method slightly outperforms the multi-layer perceptron and performs equally well as the support vector machine. Finally, many possible extensions are described to our basic method, so that much future research can be done to make the proposed method even better.
Date of Conference: 11-15 April 2011