Policy Search: Methods and Applications

author: Jan Peters, Department of Computer Science, Darmstadt University of Technology
author: Gerhard Neumann, Department of Computer Science, Darmstadt University of Technology
published: Dec. 5, 2015,   recorded: October 2015,   views: 219
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Description

Policy search is a subfield in reinforcement learning which focuses on finding good parameters for a given policy parametrization. It is well suited for robotics as it can cope with high-dimensional state and action spaces, one of the main challenges in robot learning. We review recent successes of both model-free and model-based policy search in robot learning. Model-free policy search is a general approach to learn policies based on sampled trajectories. We classify model-free methods based on their policy evaluation strategy, policy update strategy, and exploration strategy and present a unified view on existing algorithms. Learning a policy is often easier than learning an accurate forward model, and, hence, model-free methods are more frequently used in practice. How- ever, for each sampled trajectory, it is necessary to interact with the robot, which can be time consuming and challenging in practice. Model-based policy search addresses this problem by first learning a simulator of the robot’s dynamics from data. Subsequently, the simulator generates trajectories that are used for policy learning. For both model- free and model-based policy search methods, we review their respective properties and their applicability to robotic systems.

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