Data center cooling using model-predictive control

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Nevena Lazic, Craig Boutilier, Tyler Lu, Eehern Wong, Binz Roy, MK Ryu, Greg Imwalle


Despite impressive recent advances in reinforcement learning (RL), its deployment in real-world physical systems is often complicated by unexpected events, limited data, and the potential for expensive failures. In this paper, we describe an application of RL “in the wild” to the task of regulating temperatures and airflow inside a large-scale data center (DC). Adopting a data-driven, model-based approach, we demonstrate that an RL agent with little prior knowledge is able to effectively and safely regulate conditions on a server floor after just a few hours of exploration, while improving operational efficiency relative to existing PID controllers.