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Multi-Armed Recommendation Bandits for Selecting State Machine Policies for Robotic Systems

Pyry Matikainen
P. Michael Furlong
Martial Hebert
Proceedings of International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2013)


We investigate the problem of selecting a state-machine from a library to control a robot. We are particularly interested in this problem when evaluating such state machines on a particular robotics task is expensive. As a motivating example, we consider a problem where a simulated vacuuming robot must select a driving state machine well-suited for a particular (unknown) room layout. By borrowing concepts from collaborative filtering (recommender systems such as Netflix and Amazon.com), we present a multi-armed bandit formulation that incorporates recommendation techniques to efficiently select state machines for individual room layouts. We show that this formulation outperforms the individual approaches (recommendation, multi-armed bandits) as well as the baseline of selecting the `average best' state machine across all rooms.