A Cultural Algorithm for POMDPs from Stochastic Inventory Control

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Prestwich S. D., Tarim S. A., Rossi R., Hnich B.

5th International Workshop on Hybrid Metaheuristics, Malaga, Spain, 8 - 09 October 2008, vol.5296, pp.16-18 identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 5296
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/978-3-540-88439-2_2
  • City: Malaga
  • Country: Spain
  • Page Numbers: pp.16-18
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Reinforcement Learning algorithms such as SARSA with an eligibility trace, and Evolutionary Computation methods such as genetic algorithms, are competing approaches to solving Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs) which occur in many fields of Artificial Intelligence. A powerful form of evolutionary algorithm that has not previously been applied to POMDPs is the cultural algorithm, in which evolving agents share knowledge in a belief space that is used to guide their evolution. We describe a cultural algorithm for POMDPs that hybridises SARSA with a noisy genetic algorithm, and inherits the latter's convergence properties. Its belief space is a common set of state-action values that are updated during genetic exploration, and conversely used to modify chromosomes. We use it to solve problems from stochastic inventory control by finding memoryless policies for nondeterministic POMDPs. Neither SARSA nor the genetic algorithm dominates the other on these problems, but the cultural algorithm outperforms the genetic algorithm, and on highly non-Markovian instances also outperforms SARSA.