The design of high-performing robotic controllers constitutes an example of expensive optimization in uncertain environments due to the often large parameter space and noisy performance metrics. There are several evaluative techniques that can be employed for on-line controller design. Adequate benchmarks help in the choice of the right algorithm in terms of final performance and evaluation time. In this paper, we use multi-robot obstacle avoidance as a benchmark to compare two different evaluative learning techniques: Particle Swarm Optimization and Q-learning. For Q-learning, we implement two different approaches: one with discrete states and discrete actions, and another one with discrete actions but a continuous state space. We show that continuous PSO has the highest fitness overall, and Q-learning with continuous states performs significantly better than Q-learning with discrete states. We also show that in the single robot case, PSO and Q-learning with discrete states require a similar amount of total learning time to converge, while the time required with Q-learning with continuous states is significantly larger. In the multi-robot case, both Q-learning approaches require a similar amount of time as in the single robot case, but the time required by PSO can be significantly reduced due to the distributed nature of the algorithm.
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The ability to recognize errors is crucial for efficient behavior. Numerous studies have identified electrophysiological correlates of error recognition in the human brain (error-related potentials, ErrPs). Consequently, it has been proposed to use these signals to improve human-computer interaction (HCI) or brain-machine interfacing (BMI). Here, we present a review of over a decade of developments towards this goal. This body of work provides consistent evidence that ErrPs can be successfully detected on a single-trial basis, and that they can be effectively used in both HCI and BMI applications. We first describe the ErrP phenomenon and follow up with an analysis of different strategies to increase the robustness of a system by incorporating single-trial ErrP recognition, either by correcting the machine’s actions or by providing means for its error-based adaptation. These approaches can be applied both when the user employs traditional HCI input devices or in combination with another BMI channel. Finally, we discuss the current challenges that have to be overcome in order to fully integrate ErrPs into practical applications. This includes, in particular, the characterization of such signals during real(istic) applications, as well as the possibility of extracting richer information from them, going beyond the time-locked decoding that dominates current approaches.