Near Optimal Chernoff Bounds for Markov Decision Processes

author: Teodor Mihai Moldovan, AMPLab, UC Berkeley
published: Jan. 14, 2013,   recorded: December 2012,   views: 4304


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The expected return is a widely used objective in decision making under uncertainty. Many algorithms, such as value iteration, have been proposed to optimize it. In risk-aware settings, however, the expected return is often not an appropriate objective to optimize. We propose a new optimization objective for risk-aware planning and show that it has desirable theoretical properties. We also draw connections to previously proposed objectives for risk-aware planing: minmax, exponential utility, percentile and mean minus variance. Our method applies to an extended class of Markov decision processes: we allow costs to be stochastic as long as they are bounded. Additionally, we present an efficient algorithm for optimizing the proposed objective. Synthetic and real-world experiments illustrate the effectiveness of our method, at scale.

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