Vijaykumar Gullapalli, Andrew Barto
Reinforcement Learning methods based on approximating dynamic programming (DP) are receiving increased attention due to their utility in forming reactive control policies for systems embedded in dynamic environments. Environments are usually modeled as controlled Markov processes, but when the environment model is not known a priori, adaptive methods are necessary. Adaptive con(cid:173) trol methods are often classified as being direct or indirect. Direct methods directly adapt the control policy from experience, whereas indirect methods adapt a model of the controlled process and com(cid:173) pute control policies based on the latest model. Our focus is on indirect adaptive DP-based methods in this paper. We present a convergence result for indirect adaptive asynchronous value itera(cid:173) tion algorithms for the case in which a look-up table is used to store the value function. Our result implies convergence of several ex(cid:173) isting reinforcement learning algorithms such as adaptive real-time dynamic programming (ARTDP) (Barto, Bradtke, & Singh, 1993) and prioritized sweeping (Moore & Atkeson, 1993). Although the emphasis of researchers studying DP-based reinforcement learning has been on direct adaptive methods such as Q-Learning (Watkins, 1989) and methods using TD algorithms (Sutton, 1988), it is not clear that these direct methods are preferable in practice to indirect methods such as those analyzed in this paper.