Solvers

Defining a solver involves creating or using four pieces of code:

  1. A subtype of Solver that holds the parameters and configuration options for the solver.
  2. A subtype of Policy that holds all of the data needed to choose actions online.
  3. A method of solve that takes the Solver and a (PO)MDP as arguments, performs all of the offline computations for solving the problem, and returns the policy.
  4. A method of action that takes in the policy and a state or belief and returns an action.

In many cases, items 2 and 4 can be satisfied with an off-the-shelf Policy from POMDPPolicies.jl. POMDPModelTools.jl also contains many tools that are useful for defining solvers in a robust, concise, and readable manner.

Online and Offline Solvers

Generally, solvers can be grouped into two categories: Offline solvers that do most of their computational work before interacting with the environment, and online solvers that do their work online as each new state or observation is encountered. Although offline and online solvers both use the exact same Solver, solve, Policy, action structure, the work of defining online and offline solvers is focused on different portions.

For an offline solver, most of the implementation effort will be spent on the [solve] function, and an off-the-shelf policy from POMDPPolicies.jl will typically be used.

For an online solver, the solve function typically does little or no work, but merely creates a Policy object that will carry out computation online. It is typical in POMDPs.jl to use the term "Planner" to name a Policy object for an online solver that carries out a large amount of computation ("planning") at interaction time. In this case most of the effort will be focused on implementing the action method for the "Planner" Policy type.

Examples

Solver implementation is most clearly explained through examples. The following sections contain examples of both online and offline solver definitions: