Configurable Environments in Reinforcement Learning: An Overview

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Alberto Maria Metelli


Reinforcement Learning (RL) has emerged as an effective approach to address a variety of complex control tasks. In a typical RL problem, an agent interacts with the environment by perceiving observations and performing actions, with the ultimate goal of maximizing the cumulative reward. In the traditional formulation, the environment is assumed to be a fixed entity that cannot be externally controlled. However, there exist several real-world scenarios in which the environment offers the opportunity to configure some of its parameters, with diverse effects on the agent’s learning process. In this contribution, we provide an overview of the main aspects of environment configurability. We start by introducing the formalism of the Configurable Markov Decision Processes (Conf-MDPs) and we illustrate the solutions concepts. Then, we revise the algorithms for solving the learning problem in Conf-MDPs. Finally, we present two applications of Conf-MDPs: policy space identification and control frequency adaptation.


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