A Real World Reinforcement Learning Revolution

Jun 14, 2019

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Reinforcement learning (RL) is a general learning, predicting, and decision making paradigm. RL provides solution methods for sequential decision making problems as well as those can be transformed into sequential ones. RL connects deeply with optimization, statistics, game theory, causal inference, sequential experimentation, etc., overlaps largely with approximate dynamic programming and optimal control, and applies broadly in science, engineering and arts. RL has been making steady progress in academia recently, e.g., Atari games, AlphaGo, visuomotor policies for robots. RL has also been applied to real world scenarios like recommender systems and neural architecture search. See a recent collection about RL applications at https://medium.com/@yuxili/rl-applications-73ef685c07eb. It is desirable to have RL systems that work in the real world with real benefits. However, there are many issues for RL though, e.g. generalization, sample efficiency, and exploration vs. exploitation dilemma. Consequently, RL is far from being widely deployed. Common, critical and pressing questions for the RL community are then: Will RL have wide deployments? What are the issues? How to solve them? The goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers and practitioners from industry and academia interested in addressing practical and/or theoretical issues in applying RL to real life scenarios, review state of the arts, clarify impactful research problems, brainstorm open challenges, share first-hand lessons and experiences from real life deployments, summarize what has worked and what has not, collect tips for people from industry looking to apply RL and RL experts interested in applying their methods to real domains, identify potential opportunities, generate new ideas for future lines of research and development, and promote awareness and collaboration. This is not "yet another RL workshop": it is about how to successfully apply RL to real life applications. This is a less addressed issue in the RL/ML/AI community, and calls for immediate attention for sustainable prosperity of RL research and development.

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About ICML 2019

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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