Author JuliaPOMDP
6 Stars
Updated Last
1 Year Ago
Started In
March 2019

Build Status Coverage Status


This package implements the Global Approximation Value Iteration algorithm in Julia for solving Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) with global function approximation. It is functionally very similar to the previously released LocalApproximationValueIteration.jl and interested users can refer to its README for more details. The user should define the POMDP problem according to the API in POMDPs.jl. Examples of problem definitions can be found in POMDPModels.jl.


You need to have POMDPs.jl already and the JuliaPOMDP registry added (see the README of POMDPs.jl). Thereafter, you can add GlobalApproximationValueIteration from the package manager

using Pkg

How it Works

This solver is one example of Approximate Dynamic Programming, which tries to find approximately optimal value functions and policies for large or continuous state spaces. As the name suggests, global approximation value iteration tries to approximate the value function over the entire state space using a compact representation. The quality of the approximation varies with the kind of function approximation scheme used; this repository can accommodate both linear (with feature vectors) and nonlinear schemes. Please see Section 4.5.1 of the book Decision Making Under Uncertainty : Theory and Application and Chapter 3 of Markov Decision Processes in Artificial Intelligence for more.

State Space Representation

The Global Approximation solver needs two things in particular from the state space of the MDP. First, it should be able to sample a state from the state space (whether discrete or continuous). During value iteration, in each step, the solver will sample several states, estimate the value at them and try to fit the approximation scheme. Second, a state instance should be representable as a feature vector which will be used for linear or non-linear function approximation. In the default case, the feature can just be the vector encoding of the state (see State Space Representation in the README of LocalApproximationValueIteration.jl for more on this).


Please refer to the README of LocalApproximationValueIteration.jl as the usage of the global variant is very similar to that one. A simple example is also provided in the test/ folder for each of linear and nonliner function approximation. POMDPs.jl has a macro @requirements_info that determines the functions necessary to use some solver on some specific MDP model. Other than the typical methods required for approximate value iteration and state space representation mentioned above, the solver also requires a GlobalFunctionApproximator object (see src/global_function_approximation.jl for details on the interface). We have also implemented two examplar approximations, linear and non-linear. The following code snippet from test/test_with_linear_gfa.jl is the most relevant chunk of code for using the solver correctly.

# Create the MDP for a typical grid world
mdp = SimpleGridWorld(size=(SIZE_X, SIZE_Y), rewards=rewards)

# Create the linear function approximation with 10 weight parameters, initialized to zero
lin_gfa = LinearGlobalFunctionApproximator(zeros(10))

# Initialize the global approximation solver with the linear approximator and solve the MDP to obtain the policy
gfa_solver = GlobalApproximationValueIterationSolver(lin_gfa, num_samples=NUM_SAMPLES, max_iterations=MAX_ITERS, verbose=true, fv_type=SVector{10, Float64})
gfa_policy = solve(gfa_solver, mdp)

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