Journal Article Adaptive Baseline Enhances EM-Based Policy Search: Validation in a View-Based Positioning Task of a Smartphone Balancer

Wang, Jiexin  ,  Uchibe, Eiji  ,  Doya, Kenji

112017-01-23 , Frontiers Media SA
EM-based policy search methods estimate a lower bound of the expected return from the histories of episodes and iteratively update the policy parameters using the maximum of a lower bound of expected return, which makes gradient calculation and learning rate tuning unnecessary. Previous algorithms like Policy learning by Weighting Exploration with the Returns, Fitness Expectation Maximization, and EM-based Policy Hyperparameter Exploration implemented the mechanisms to discard useless low-return episodes either implicitly or using a fixed baseline determined by the experimenter. In this paper, we propose an adaptive baseline method to discard worse samples from the reward history and examine different baselines, including the mean, and multiples of SDs from the mean. The simulation results of benchmark tasks of pendulum swing up and cart-pole balancing, and standing up and balancing of a two-wheeled smartphone robot showed improved performances. We further implemented the adaptive baseline with mean in our two-wheeled smartphone robot hardware to test its performance in the standing up and balancing task, and a view-based approaching task. Our results showed that with adaptive baseline, the method outperformed the previous algorithms and achieved faster, and more precise behaviors at a higher successful rate

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