David Silver, Joel Veness
This paper introduces a Monte-Carlo algorithm for online planning in large POMDPs. The algorithm combines a Monte-Carlo update of the agent's belief state with a Monte-Carlo tree search from the current belief state. The new algorithm, POMCP, has two important properties. First, Monte-Carlo sampling is used to break the curse of dimensionality both during belief state updates and during planning. Second, only a black box simulator of the POMDP is required, rather than explicit probability distributions. These properties enable POMCP to plan effectively in significantly larger POMDPs than has previously been possible. We demonstrate its effectiveness in three large POMDPs. We scale up a well-known benchmark problem, Rocksample, by several orders of magnitude. We also introduce two challenging new POMDPs: 10x10 Battleship and Partially Observable PacMan, with approximately 10^18 and 10^56 states respectively. Our Monte-Carlo planning algorithm achieved a high level of performance with no prior knowledge, and was also able to exploit simple domain knowledge to achieve better results with less search. POMCP is the first general purpose planner to achieve high performance in such large and unfactored POMDPs.