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- TL;DR: A normative theory of hierarchical model-based policy optimization
- Abstract: We develop a normative theory of hierarchical model-based policy optimization for Markov decision processes resulting in a full-depth, full-width policy iteration algorithm. This method performs policy updates which integrate reward information over all states at all horizons simultaneously thus sequentially maximizing the expected reward obtained per algorithmic iteration. Effectively, policy path programming ascends the expected cumulative reward gradient in the space of policies defined over all state-space paths. An exact formula is derived which finitely parametrizes these path gradients in terms of action preferences. Policy path gradients can be directly computed using an internal model thus obviating the need to sample paths in order to optimize in depth. They are quadratic in successor representation entries and afford natural generalizations to higher-order gradient techniques. In simulations, it is shown that intuitive hierarchical reasoning is emergent within the associated policy optimization dynamics.
- Keywords: markov decision process, planning, hierarchical, reinforcement learning