Improving Gradient Estimation by Incorporating Sensor Data

06/13/2012 ∙ by Gregory Lawrence, et al. ∙ 0

An efficient policy search algorithm should estimate the local gradient of the objective function, with respect to the policy parameters, from as few trials as possible. Whereas most policy search methods estimate this gradient by observing the rewards obtained during policy trials, we show, both theoretically and empirically, that taking into account the sensor data as well gives better gradient estimates and hence faster learning. The reason is that rewards obtained during policy execution vary from trial to trial due to noise in the environment; sensor data, which correlates with the noise, can be used to partially correct for this variation, resulting in an estimatorwith lower variance.

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