Thompson Sampling for Pursuit-Evasion Problems

Pursuit-evasion is a multi-agent sequential decision problem wherein a group of agents known as pursuers coordinate their traversal of a spatial domain to locate an agent trying to evade them. Pursuit evasion problems arise in a number of import application domains including defense and route planning. Learning to optimally coordinate pursuer behaviors so as to minimize time to capture of the evader is challenging because of a large action space and sparse noisy state information; consequently, previous approaches have relied primarily on heuristics. We propose a variant of Thompson Sampling for pursuit-evasion that allows for the application of existing model-based planning algorithms. This approach is general in that it allows for an arbitrary number of pursuers, a general spatial domain, and the integration of auxiliary information provided by informants. In a suite of simulation experiments, Thompson Sampling for pursuit evasion significantly reduces time-to-capture relative to competing algorithms.

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