Selection and Reinforcement Learning for Combinatorial Optimization

Improving on a previous paper, we explicitly relate reinforcement and selection learning (PBIL) algorithms for combinatorial optimization, which is understood as the task of finding a fixed-length binary string maximizing an arbitrary function. We show the equivalence of searching for an optimal string and searching for a probability distribution over strings maximizing the function expectation. In this paper however, we will only consider the family of Bernoulli distributions. Next, we introduce two gradient dynamical systems acting on probability vectors. The first one maximizes the expectation of the function and leads to reinforcement learning algorithms whereas the second one maximizes the logarithm of the expectation of the function and leads to selection learning algorithms. We finally give a stability analysis of solutions.

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