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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Prediction and Control with Function Approximation by University of Alberta

493 ratings
86 reviews

About the Course

In this course, you will learn how to solve problems with large, high-dimensional, and potentially infinite state spaces. You will see that estimating value functions can be cast as a supervised learning problem---function approximation---allowing you to build agents that carefully balance generalization and discrimination in order to maximize reward. We will begin this journey by investigating how our policy evaluation or prediction methods like Monte Carlo and TD can be extended to the function approximation setting. You will learn about feature construction techniques for RL, and representation learning via neural networks and backprop. We conclude this course with a deep-dive into policy gradient methods; a way to learn policies directly without learning a value function. In this course you will solve two continuous-state control tasks and investigate the benefits of policy gradient methods in a continuous-action environment. Prerequisites: This course strongly builds on the fundamentals of Courses 1 and 2, and learners should have completed these before starting this course. Learners should also be comfortable with probabilities & expectations, basic linear algebra, basic calculus, Python 3.0 (at least 1 year), and implementing algorithms from pseudocode. By the end of this course, you will be able to: -Understand how to use supervised learning approaches to approximate value functions -Understand objectives for prediction (value estimation) under function approximation -Implement TD with function approximation (state aggregation), on an environment with an infinite state space (continuous state space) -Understand fixed basis and neural network approaches to feature construction -Implement TD with neural network function approximation in a continuous state environment -Understand new difficulties in exploration when moving to function approximation -Contrast discounted problem formulations for control versus an average reward problem formulation -Implement expected Sarsa and Q-learning with function approximation on a continuous state control task -Understand objectives for directly estimating policies (policy gradient objectives) -Implement a policy gradient method (called Actor-Critic) on a discrete state environment...

Top reviews


Jun 25, 2020

Surely a level-up from the previous courses. This course adds to and extends what has been learned in courses 1 & 2 to a greater sphere of real-world problems. Great job Prof. Adam and Martha!


Aug 14, 2020

Adam & Martha really make the walk through Sutton & Barto's book a real pleasure and easy to understand. The notebooks and the practice quizzes greatly help to consolidate the material.

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51 - 75 of 86 Reviews for Prediction and Control with Function Approximation

By Raktim P

Dec 17, 2019

Great Course! Highly recommended for beginners.

By İbrahim Y

Oct 05, 2020

the course is the intro for high level RL

By Teresa Y B

May 11, 2020

Very Useful and Highly Recommend !!!

By Stewart A

Oct 31, 2019

Simply the best course on this topic.

By Junchao

May 29, 2020

Very good and self-oriented course!

By Wei J

Oct 11, 2020

It is a very perfect RL course.

By Antonis S

May 30, 2020

Really a well-prepared course!

By Ignacio O

Nov 30, 2019

Really good, I learned a lot.


May 02, 2020

Great speakers and content!

By Majd W

Feb 01, 2020

Very practical course.

By 李谨杰

Jun 17, 2020

Excellent class !!!

By Hugo T K

Aug 18, 2020

Excellent course.

By Murtaza K B

Apr 25, 2020

Excellent course

By Ivan M

Aug 30, 2020

Just brilliant

By Cheuk L Y

Jul 08, 2020

Very good!

By Ananthapadmanaban, J

Jul 20, 2020

I am disappointed with policy gradients being introduced on last week of the 3rd course. The instructors need to understand that 12 weeks is too much for introduction before starting a good project to implement the concepts with a hope to better understand them (course 4). Policy gradients should have been introduced in week 3/4 of course 2 itself. The content before that should be made more efficient (4 weeks to understand until q-learning/sarsa and 2 weeks to understand function approximation should be enough). I realized after course 2 that Andrew Ng has 3/4 videos on RL in the recently released ML class from Stanford. I am yet to go through them, but I feel they may explain these faster with same amount of rigour. However, the stanford class assignments are not public, which makes this course still useful because of the assignments. However, thanks to the instructors for this course.

By Luiz C

Oct 03, 2019

Almost perfect, except two ~minor objections:

1/ the learning content between the 4 weeks is quite unbalanced. The initial weeks of the course are well sized, whereas week #3 and week #4 feel a touch light. It feels like the Instructors rushed to make the Course available online, and didn't have time to put as much content as they wished in the last weeks of the Course

2/ there are too many typos in some notebooks (specifically notebook of week #3). It gives the impression it was made in a rush, and nobody read over it again. Besides there seems to currently be some issue with this assignment

By Dmitry S

Jan 05, 2020

Definitely a course to take to learn the ropes of RL. For this course, it is critical to follow and math. I'd love to give 5 stars to this course but will however take one away since the course could benefit a lot if the math was made a bit simpler to follow. The book referenced in the course is excellent and does help, but still, some more pedagogical repetition/rephrase, simplification of notation, a bit slower pace of narration would make the course even better. Having said that, this seems to be the best course available at this time. Many thanks to tutors.

By Narendra G

Jul 19, 2020

This course is important for those who not just want to learn RL for mere sake but want to dive into various topics currently in research (for that reading textbook is of most importance). This specialization would have been even better if it had included some more complex topics from the textbook. To fully comprehend all the topics, guidance from experts is necessary.


Jan 21, 2020

Great course, deserve 5 stars. It is a good complement to the book, it adds interesting visualizations to help parse the content. The only issues were in the exercises. There are technical issues with the notebook platform where it keeps disconnecting from time to time, with no warning, and you lose your unsaved work (seems like token expiration).

By Hugo V

Jan 15, 2020

it was great to apply what I have learned from the book, but it was hard to find my mistakes in the course 3 notebook. I also misunderstood the alphas in the course 4 notebook at first glance, their indices look like they are powers (sorry for the bad english). Besides it, great course.

By Lik M C

Jan 19, 2020

The course is still good. But the assignment is not as good as course 1 and 2. In fact, the contents of the course are getting complicated and interesting as well. But the assignments are relatively simple.

By Mark P

Aug 17, 2020

Solid intro course. Wish we covered more using neural nets. The neural net equations used very non-standard notation. Wish the assignments were a little more creative. Too much grid world.

By Anton P

Apr 13, 2020

There is a lot of material covered in the course. Be aware the pace picks up considerably from the first two courses. This said, it is a worthwhile course to take.

By Vladyslav Y

Sep 08, 2020

I wish agents that are based on visual information (with the usage of CNN) would be included in the course. But overall that was really great!