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Dynamic−Depth Context Tree Weighting

João Messias and Shimon Whiteson


Reinforcement learning (RL) in partially observable settings is challenging because the agent's observations are not Markov. Recently proposed methods can learn variable-order Markov models of the underlying process but have steep memory requirements and are sensitive to aliasing between observation histories due to sensor noise. This paper proposes dynamic-depth context tree weighting (D2-CTW), a model-learning method that addresses these limitations. D2-CTW dynamically expands a suffix tree while ensuring that the size of the model, but not its depth, remains bounded. We show that D2-CTW approximately matches the performance of state-of-the-art alternatives at stochastic time-series prediction while using at least an order of magnitude less memory. We also apply D2-CTW to model-based RL, showing that, on tasks that require memory of past observations, D2-CTW can learn without prior knowledge of a good state representation, or even the length of history upon which such a representation should depend.

Book Title
NeurIPS 2017: Proceedings of the Thirty−First Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems
NVAIL Pioneering Research Award.