Machine Learning

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 105–130

Shifting Inductive Bias with Success-Story Algorithm, Adaptive Levin Search, and Incremental Self-Improvement


  • Jürgen Schmidhuber
    • IDSIA
  • Jieyu Zhao
    • IDSIA
  • Marco Wiering
    • IDSIA

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007383707642

Cite this article as:
Schmidhuber, J., Zhao, J. & Wiering, M. Machine Learning (1997) 28: 105. doi:10.1023/A:1007383707642


We study task sequences that allow for speeding up the learner's average reward intake through appropriate shifts of inductive bias (changes of the learner's policy). To evaluate long-term effects of bias shifts setting the stage for later bias shifts we use the “success-story algorithm” (SSA). SSA is occasionally called at times that may depend on the policy itself. It uses backtracking to undo those bias shifts that have not been empirically observed to trigger long-term reward accelerations (measured up until the current SSA call). Bias shifts that survive SSA represent a lifelong success history. Until the next SSA call, they are considered useful and build the basis for additional bias shifts. SSA allows for plugging in a wide variety of learning algorithms. We plug in (1) a novel, adaptive extension of Levin search and (2) a method for embedding the learner's policy modification strategy within the policy itself (incremental self-improvement). Our inductive transfer case studies involve complex, partially observable environments where traditional reinforcement learning fails.

inductive biasreinforcement learningreward accelerationLevin searchsuccess-story algorithmincremental self-improvement
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997