Simulation-based search

  • David Silver

    DeepMind, London, UK, and University College London, London, UK
  • Andre Barreto

    DeepMind, London, UK
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Planning is one of the oldest and most important problems in artificial intelligence. Sim­u­lation-based search algorithms, such as AlphaZero, have achieved superhuman performance in chess and Go and are used widely in real-world applications of planning. In this paper we provide a unified framework for simulation-based search. Algorithms in this framework interleave operators for policy evaluation (better estimating the value function of the current policy) and policy improvement (using the value function to form a better policy). These operators are applied to states and actions that are sampled in sequential trajectories, and that may branch recursively into other sampled trajectories. The value function and policy may also be represented by a function approximator. Our framework includes a broad family of search algorithms that includes Monte-Carlo tree search, sparse sampling, nested Monte-Carlo search, classification-based policy iteration, and AlphaZero.