Fall 2017

Optimization Seminar

Thursday, September 7th, 2017, 10:30 am12:00 pm

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Calvin Lab auditorium

The Statistical Foundations of Learning to Control

Given the dramatic successes in machine learning and reinforcement learning (RL) over the past half decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in applying these techniques to continuous control problems in robotics, self-driving cars, and unmanned aerial vehicles.  Though such applications appear to be straightforward generalizations of standard RL, few fundamental baselines have been established prescribing how well one must know a system in order to control it.  In this talk, I will discuss the general paradigm for RL and how it is related to more classical concepts in control.  I will then describe a contemporary view merging techniques from statistical learning theory and robust control to derive baselines for these continuous control problems.  I will explore several examples that balance perception and action, and demonstrate finite sample tradeoffs between estimation and control performance.  I will close by listing several exciting open problems that must be solved before we can build robust, safe learning systems that interact with an uncertain physical environment.