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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Optimal control of dynamic systems through the reinforcement learning of transition points Buckland, Kenneth M.


This work describes the theoretical development and practical application of transition point dynamic programming (TPDP). TPDP is a memory-based, reinforcement learning, direct dynamic programming approach to adaptive optimal control that can reduce the learning time and memory usage required for the control of continuous stochastic dynamic systems. TPDP does so by determining an ideal set of transition points (TPs) which specify, at various system states, only the control action changes necessary for optimal control. TPDP converges to an ideal TP set by using a variation of Q-learning to assess the merits of adding, swapping and removing TPs from states throughout the state space. This work first presents how optimal control is achieved using dynamic programming, in particular Q-learning. It then presents the basic TPDP concept and proof that TPDP converges to an ideal set of TPs. After the formal presentation of TPDP, a Practical TPDP Algorithm will be described which facilitates the application of TPDP to practical problems. The compromises made to achieve good performance with the Practical TPDP Algorithm invalidate the TPDP convergence proofs, but near optimal control policies were nevertheless learned in the practical problems considered. These policies were learned very quickly compared to conventional Q-learning, and less memory was required during the learning process. A neural network implementation of TPDP is also described, and the possibility of this neural network being a plausible model of biological movement control is speculated upon. Finally, the incorporation of TPDP into a complete hierarchical controller is discussed, and potential enhancements of TPDP are presented.

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