[ed.general] Seminar at Dept of AI, Edinburgh on 24th April 1991

tw@aipna.ed.ac.uk (Toby Walsh) (04/16/91)

                       Building Embedded Agents

                        Leslie Pack Kaelbling
               Stanford University and Teleos Research

It is very difficult to build agents that operate continuously in
dynamic, unpredictable worlds.  There are two ways that this task can
be made easier: by designing new programming abstractions, languages,
and tools to simplify the problem for human programmers; and to
develop learning algorithms that move some of the burden from the
programmer to the agents themselves.  In this talk, I will present
work in each of these areas.

In programming agents, there is a strong tension between using
low-level formalisms, which are efficient to execute but difficult for
humans to use, and using higher-level declarative formalisms, which
simplify the programming task for humans, but are often
computationally intractable to execute.  I will describe Gapps, a
language for programming embedded agents at the declarative level in
terms of goals of achievement and maintenance that compiles into
efficiently executable programs with bounded reaction time.  Gapps has
been used effectively in robot programming projects.

Good programming formalisms are not enough.  Many times the programmer
does not know everything about the domain in which the agent will be
working, so the agent must learn from its experience with the world.
The area of reinforcement learning has received a great deal of
attention from statisticians and learning-automata theorists, but has
not been a focus of artificial intelligence research.  I will give a
brief discussion of the formal setting and some important problems in
reinforcement learning, then go on to present new work on efficient
algorithms for reinforcement learning.

Finally, I will speculate on ways to integrate these two approaches in
order to exploit the strengths of both.


For more information about this or future seminars please contact 
Toby Walsh <T.Walsh@ed.ac.uk>
Toby Walsh,                       JANET: Toby_Walsh@uk.ac.edinburgh
Dept of Artificial Intelligence,  ARPA: Toby_Walsh%uk.ac.ed@nsfnet-relay.ac.uk
80 South Bridge,                  UUCP:  ...!ukc!ed.ac.uk!Toby_Walsh
Edinburgh EH1 1HN                 TEL:   +44 31 650 2725