- All DegreesExplore Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees
- BusinessExplore MBA & Business degrees
- Computer Science & EngineeringExplore Computer Science & Engineering degrees
- Data ScienceExplore Data Science degrees
- MasterTrack™Earn credit towards a Master’s degree
- University CertificatesAdvance your career with graduate-level learning

Back to Fundamentals of Reinforcement Learning

stars

2,536 ratings

Reinforcement Learning is a subfield of Machine Learning, but is also a general purpose formalism for automated decision-making and AI. This course introduces you to statistical learning techniques where an agent explicitly takes actions and interacts with the world. Understanding the importance and challenges of learning agents that make decisions is of vital importance today, with more and more companies interested in interactive agents and intelligent decision-making.
This course introduces you to the fundamentals of Reinforcement Learning. When you finish this course, you will:
- Formalize problems as Markov Decision Processes
- Understand basic exploration methods and the exploration/exploitation tradeoff
- Understand value functions, as a general-purpose tool for optimal decision-making
- Know how to implement dynamic programming as an efficient solution approach to an industrial control problem
This course teaches you the key concepts of Reinforcement Learning, underlying classic and modern algorithms in RL. After completing this course, you will be able to start using RL for real problems, where you have or can specify the MDP.
This is the first course of the Reinforcement Learning Specialization....

AT

Jul 6, 2020

An excellent introduction to Reinforcement Learning, accompanied by a well-organized & informative handbook. I definitely recommend this course to have a strong foundation in Reinforcement Learning.

HT

Apr 7, 2020

This course is one of the best I've learned so far in coursera. The explanations are clear and concise enough. It took a while for me to understand Bellman equation but when I did, it felt amazing!

Filter by:

By Douglas D R M

•Jul 1, 2020

I believe that, as of now, this is the most educational and informative resource available online to learn the fundamentals of RL from scratch. the instructors use Sutton’s book as reference material (which is freely available online), guide you to details that no one would know are important when studying RL alone and prepare you to venture further into the area, with a solid foundation. I definitely recommend this as a starting point for anyone who wants to dig deep into RL.

By Carlos D A

•Feb 18, 2023

This course gives a strong foundation for understanding and applying RL, particularly I like the way the material summarizes the content detailed in books like Sutton's and Barto's, and courses like those given by David Silver at UCL / Deepmind / Youtube / David's site. Also programming assignments let me understand the concepts I didn't grasp initially by implementing them in code, I wish the course would have had more of those though. Overall, I recommend taking this course.

By Saraj S

•Aug 28, 2019

This is the best RL course I have ever attended. Even before starting this course I had brought the textbook (the one which course instructors also recommend) and was through the first 4 chapters. I understood most of the material but when I attended the class, everything was crystal clear. I hope instructors follow up and create the remaining courses as well. Please increase prgramming assignments in number as well. Thumbs up. Thanks for this course, very grateful.

By Kaylee Z

•Oct 3, 2019

I really like this course. This course introduces the basic mathematical background needed in RL, as well as provided algorithms and hands-on programming practices in translating algorithms into actual code, which is a well-blended material for students to learn! The quizzes are very helpful as well, which helps me understand the concepts better. All the methods discussed here are quite practical and intuitive. Thanks Martha and Adam making this course fun!

By Aseem P C L

•Jan 30, 2022

wow....It was the best course for the basic of reinforcement learning. Before enrollment I was roaming all over internet for getting started but every other courses I visited from You Tube were not on order and often were too vast so early with proper background of fundamentals on reinforcement learning. But this courses from University of Alberta was just amazing.

Thank you for this course. It will be huge boost for preparing my college minor project.

By Artod

•Oct 3, 2021

Honestly, I would prefer to just lay back and consume knowledge from videos rather than reading a book full of scary math :)

Another issue is that the time allocated for reading and programming assessments is not fair: reading the book definitely takes longer, considering all that level of abstraction.

I would recommend to watch David Silver's course on Youtube after this course for generalization and a deeper understanding of the topic.

By Mohamed S R I

•Dec 22, 2019

The material in this course is of interest or me. It combines both theories and practical aspects of RL. The course follows the standard book in RL (Sutton & Barto Book).

One improvement may be needed is to add more "modern" examples and programming assignments/modules to explain the concepts. Also, it would be nice if the instructors can sometimes reflect on their own experiences with RL, rather than exactly following the book.

By Tianwen M

•Feb 3, 2021

This course provides me the fundamental principles of RL! I like the clarity of each module (because I tend to be lost in the textbook only). In addition, I really appreciate the programming assignments of this specialization which helps me gain a deeper understanding of the basic concepts. I used to be afraid of dynamic programming, but I think I am confident enough to study more complex problems using DP in the future.

By x y

•Aug 19, 2020

I have been interested in RL for a while and have watched many videos taught by other researchers, but this one provides something unique that helped me really get a deeper understanding of RL and gain confidence, such as the graded exercises, the quiz, I look forward to continuing this sequence of the RL specilization! Thank you so much for making the complex concepts accessible and make the quizzes and assignments!

By Corey A

•Mar 27, 2022

Combined with the suggested reference, this course does a good job of giving an introduction to the fundamentals of RL. The videos are easy to follow and compliment the text well, the pacing is good, and the assignments were fairly easy to follow. I did find it helpful to supplement the assignments with additional independent exercises to fully understand the chapters covered, but I feel that was expected.

By Yuri F

•Sep 20, 2021

Very good course, you can take it at any level, if you wish just to get familiar with reinforcement learning you can watch the video and quickly read the book, but if you would like to be an expert you can deep dive in the book. i really like that the course follow some book which made it an serious course. could be nice to add some more homework (optional) with more interesting problem (e.g. gym)

By Jan Z

•Aug 25, 2020

The course was very fun and informative. I really enjoyed the presentation style with clear outlines and summaries. The explanations were useful and easy to follow. Suggestions for improvements:

1) Provide a kindle version of the book, reading on screen is very tiring for eyes.

2) I think the programming exercises could use some work from SE perspective, as some of the code is not really pythonic.

By Karel V

•Dec 16, 2019

The course is very well organised and professionally made. Although it follows the first four chapters of the Reinforcement Learning textbook, it provides a little bit different narrative and thus serves as a very nice complement to the textbook. Most importantly, interactive quizzes, programming exercises in Python and plenty of visualisations help to strengthen understanding of the concepts.

By 李谨杰

•Apr 25, 2020

This course is the best course I have taken in Coursera! As a learner of RL in a non-English-speaking country, Sutton's book is too hard for me to accept a new idea very quickly. However, after watching the short videos in this course that summarize the core concepts explicitly, I can understand the contents of that book easily. Recommend for anyone who wants to study reinforcement learning！

By Christian C

•Aug 4, 2019

Exceptional course, the fundamental of RL explanations are excellent! I in particular I found it insightful the focus on thinking about examples in real-life that can be modeled as Markov Decision process. Additionally, great quizzes questions and assignments all helped in deepening my understanding of topics such as Dynamic Programing, Bellman Optimality, and Generalized Policy Iteration.

By Justin S

•Aug 23, 2019

Excellent Course! The level of difficulty is perfect. It is difficult but not impossible if you do the readings in the textbook and understand the lectures. I strongly suggest reading the book before watching the lectures. This helped my understanding significantly. The material and assignments are very interesting and informative.

Highly recommend this course to anyone interested in RL.

By Bhargav D P

•Jun 20, 2020

This course will give you the knowledge of most fundamental concepts of RL Like MDPs, Policy evaluation, policy improvement & value iteration algorithms. Even though you follow theory well, quiz and assignment will challenge your knowledge to think into bit more deeper level. frankly speaking, I took some quizzes three times and at the end I learned the concepts very well. :)

By La W N

•Jul 1, 2020

So far so good. The course is really valuable. It'll be better if there are more explanations about mathematics used but there is discussion forums so not a big problem. It is ineffective in teaching the practicality, i.e, how real word problem can be related, what kind of problems can be solved by these methods. Overall, it is a great explanation about reinforcement learning.

By Joosung M

•Jun 2, 2020

The content was very interesting, the instructors made things very clear that they were a great help in understanding what was really happening in the textbook.

I loved that this course provided a textbook with a lot of examples and case studies. I am willing to learn more about RL in the next set of courses.

Thank you so much for proving this wonderful specialization.

By Thomas G

•Apr 1, 2020

Fundamentals of Reinforcement Learning is one of the best Online Courses I did on Coursera. I like that the course is based on a text book (Reinforcement Learning by Sutton), so you can really dig into the theory. Also the exercises are very helpful and ambitious which I like. I haven't found much advanced online courses which are so well explained like this one.

By Tamas K

•Feb 6, 2023

Great course. Theory-heavy, it follows the Sutton-Barto book chapter by chapter (up to Ch. 4. in this course), the quizzes are relatively hard, the programing assignments are fun and with the given number of hints they can be done in a reasonable amount of time. I really enjoyed this one and looking forward to the next course of this specialization.

By Thong Q N

•Feb 14, 2021

RL is not an easy topic, but the instructors made sure to illustrate the concepts with a lot of examples and visualizations, making it much easier to digest than reading the textbook. Guest lectures were fascinating. Programming assignments in Jupyter notebooks are super helpful with a lot of step-by-step instructions. An excellent course overall.

By Silvio M

•Jul 20, 2021

Outstanding course. Instructors are great. The course alternates between important readings and well-crafted videos, quizzes and assignments. As you progress, concepts get tangible and you start figuring out possible applications. Do check out the required background knowledge. I've immediately enrolled in the second course of the specialization.

By D. R

•Dec 3, 2019

I really liked this course. I think it was challenging and high quality. I don't understand complaints about it following the book - I found the videos, quizzes and exercises insightful and thought provoking. And besides courses are meant to follow some material and not re-invent the wheel. Am really excited for the rest of the specialization.

By Nicolas L

•Nov 20, 2019

The course was great. Very clearly explained, with meaningful examples and backup material, such as the recommended book.

My only comment will be on the case study given on the final programming assignment. The parking scenario was not very intuitive or clear for me. It took me quite a bit to understand what it was we were trying to optimize.

- AWS Cloud A Practitioner's Guide
- Basics of Computer Programming with Python
- Beginners Python Programming in IT
- Developing Professional High Fidelity Designs and Prototypes
- Get Google CBRS-CPI Certified
- Introduction to MATLAB Programming
- Learn HTML and CSS for Building Modern Web Pages
- Learn the Basics of Agile with Atlassian JIRA
- Managing IT Infrastructure Services
- Mastering the Fundamentals of IT Support

- Basics of Computer Programming with Python
- Beginners Python Programming in IT
- Building a Modern Computer System from the Ground Up
- Getting Started with Google Cloud Fundamentals
- Introduction to Cryptography
- Introduction to Programming and Web Development
- Introduction to UX Design
- Learn HTML and CSS for Building Modern Web Pages
- Mastering the Fundamentals of IT Support
- Utilizing SLOs & SLIs to Measure Site Reliability

- Building an Agile and Value-Driven Product Backlog
- Foundations of Financial Markets & Behavioral Finance
- Getting Started with Construction Project Management
- Getting Started With Google Sheets
- Introduction to AI for Non-Technical People
- Learn the Basics of SEO and Improve Your Website's Rankings
- Mastering Business Writing
- Mastering the Art of Effective Public Speaking
- Social Media Content Creation & Management
- Understanding Financial Statements & Disclosures