Tutorial: Introduction to Reinforcement Learning with Function Approximation

Reinforcement learning is a body of theory and techniques for optimal sequential decision making developed in the last thirty years primarily within the machine learning and operations research communities, and which has separately become important in psychology and neuroscience. This tutorial will develop an intuitive understanding of the underlying formal problem (Markov decision processes) and its core solution methods, including dynamic programming, Monte Carlo methods, and temporal-difference learning. It will focus on how these methods have been combined with parametric function approximation, including deep learning, to find good approximate solutions to problems that are otherwise too large to be addressed at all. Finally, it will briefly survey some recent developments in function approximation, eligibility traces, and off-policy learning.

Rich S. Sutton
    • Portrait of Ryan Spickard

      Ryan Spickard