Multiagent Planning with Factored MDPs

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 14 (NIPS 2001)

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Carlos Guestrin, Daphne Koller, Ronald Parr


We present a principled and efficient planning algorithm for cooperative multia- gent dynamic systems. A striking feature of our method is that the coordination and communication between the agents is not imposed, but derived directly from the system dynamics and function approximation architecture. We view the en- tire multiagent system as a single, large Markov decision process (MDP), which we assume can be represented in a factored way using a dynamic Bayesian net- work (DBN). The action space of the resulting MDP is the joint action space of the entire set of agents. Our approach is based on the use of factored linear value functions as an approximation to the joint value function. This factorization of the value function allows the agents to coordinate their actions at runtime using a natural message passing scheme. We provide a simple and efficient method for computing such an approximate value function by solving a single linear pro- gram, whose size is determined by the interaction between the value function structure and the DBN. We thereby avoid the exponential blowup in the state and action space. We show that our approach compares favorably with approaches based on reward sharing. We also show that our algorithm is an efficient alterna- tive to more complicated algorithms even in the single agent case.