A Comparison of Human and Agent Reinforcement Learning in Partially Observable Domains


It is commonly stated that reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms require more samples to learn than humans. In this work, we investigate this claim using two standard problems from the RL literature. We compare the performance of human subjects to RL techniques. We find that context--the meaningfulness of the observations--plays a significant role in the rate of human RL. Moreover, without contextual information, humans often fare much worse than classic algorithms. Comparing the detailed responses of humans and RL algorithms, we also find that humans appear to employ rather different strategies from standard algorithms, even in cases where they had indistinguishable performance to them.

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