Title: Automated Planning and Decision Making Using Probabilistic Inference

Speaker: Akshat Kumar, Singapore Management University

Abstract: Automated planning and decision making is a key building block of artificial intelligence. Traditionally, approaches for decision making and planning have evolved somewhat separately from that of machine learning. In this talk, I will highlight the duality between planning and learning. I will show that several decision making problems in probabilistic graphical models (such as the problem of maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation) with applications in multiagent systems, bioinformatics, and computer vision can be viewed from a machine learning (ML) perspective using the framework of maximum likelihood estimation. Similarly, I will show how classical planning problems such as finding the shortest path in a graph can also be viewed from an ML perspective. As a result of this connection between planning and learning, I will show how probabilistic inference approaches can be used for planning, and their benefits. I will conclude by highlighting how such planning-as-inference perspective has recently helped address challenging sequential decision making problems in multiagent systems.

Bio: Akshat Kumar is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the Singapore Management University. He received his B.Tech. in computer science from IIT Guwahati, and M.S. and Ph.D. also in computer science from Univ. Of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst). His research is broadly in the area of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Specifically, his research interests include automated planning and decision making in single and multiagent systems, reasoning under uncertainty using Markov decision processes, graphical models and probabilistic inference. His Ph.D. thesis received best dissertation awards at the international conference on automated planning and scheduling (ICAPS), 2014 and at the school of computer science, UMass Amherst, and also received IFAAMAS Victor Lesser Distinguished Dissertation Runner-up award at the international conference on autonomous agents and multiagent systems (AAMAS 2013). He also received the outstanding application paper award at ICAPS 2014. He regularly participates and publishes papers in major AI/ML conferences such as AAAI, IJCAI, AAMAS, ICAPS, UAI and ICML. More details about him can be found here: http://www.mysmu.edu/faculty/akshatkumar