NIPS Proceedingsβ

A Smoothed Approximate Linear Program

Part of: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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We present a novel linear program for the approximation of the dynamic programming cost-to-go function in high-dimensional stochastic control problems. LP approaches to approximate DP naturally restrict attention to approximations that are lower bounds to the optimal cost-to-go function. Our program -- the `smoothed approximate linear program -- relaxes this restriction in an appropriate fashion while remaining computationally tractable. Doing so appears to have several advantages: First, we demonstrate superior bounds on the quality of approximation to the optimal cost-to-go function afforded by our approach. Second, experiments with our approach on a challenging problem (the game of Tetris) show that the approach outperforms the existing LP approach (which has previously been shown to be competitive with several ADP algorithms) by an order of magnitude.