Prioritizing point-based POMDP solvers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recent scaling up of partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) solvers toward realistic applications is largely due to point-based methods that quickly converge to an approximate solution for medium-sized domains. These algorithms compute a value function for a finite reachable set of belief points, using backup operations. Point-based algorithms differ on the selection of the set of belief points and on the order by which backup operations are executed on the selected belief points. We first show how current algorithms execute a large number of backups that can be removed without reducing the quality of the value function. We demonstrate that the ordering of backup operations on a predefined set of belief points is important. In the simpler domain of MDP solvers, prioritizing the order of equivalent backup operations on states is known to speed up convergence. We generalize the notion of prioritized backups to the POMDP framework, showing how existing algorithms can be improved by prioritizing backups. We also present a new algorithm, which is the prioritized value iteration, and show empirically that it outperforms current point-based algorithms. Finally, a new empirical evaluation measure (in addition to the standard runtime comparison), which is based on the number of atomic operations and the number of belief points, is proposed in order to provide more accurate benchmark comparisons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1592-1605
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part B: Cybernetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 8 Dec 2008


  • Partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP)
  • Point-based
  • Prioritized value iteration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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