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Although perception is an increasingly dominant portion of the overall computational cost for autonomous systems, only a fraction of the information perceived is likely to be relevant to the current task. To alleviate these perception costs, we develop a novel simultaneous perception–action design framework wherein an agent senses only the taskrelevant information. This formulation differs from that of a partially observable Markov decision process, since the agent is free to synthesize not only its policy for action selection but also its beliefdependent observation function. The method enables the agent to balance its perception costs with those incurred by operating in its environment. To obtain a computationally tractable solution, we approximate the value function using a novel method of invariant finite belief sets, wherein the agent acts exclusively on a finite subset of the continuous belief space. We solve the approximate problem through value iteration in which a linear program is solved individually for each belief state in the set, in each iteration. Finally, we prove that the value functions, under an assumption on their structure, converge to their continuous statespace values as the sample density increases.more » « less

Although perception is an increasingly dominant portion of the overall computational cost for autonomous systems, only a fraction of the information perceived is likely to be relevant to the current task. To alleviate these perception costs, we develop a novel simultaneous perception–action design framework wherein an agent senses only the taskrelevant information. This formulation differs from that of a partially observable Markov decision process, since the agent is free to synthesize not only its policy for action selection but also its beliefdependent observation function. The method enables the agent to balance its perception costs with those incurred by operating in its environment. To obtain a computationally tractable solution, we approximate the value function using a novel method of invariant finite belief sets, wherein the agent acts exclusively on a finite subset of the continuous belief space. We solve the approximate problem through value iteration in which a linear program is solved individually for each belief state in the set, in each iteration. Finally, we prove that the value functions, under an assumption on their structure, converge to their continuous statespace values as the sample density increases.more » « less

We study the problem of synthesizing a controller that maximizes the entropy of a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) subject to a constraint on the expected total reward. Such a controller minimizes the predictability of an agent’s trajectories to an outside observer while guaranteeing the completion of a task expressed by a reward function. Focusing on finitestate controllers (FSCs) with deterministic memory transitions, we show that the maximum entropy of a POMDP is lower bounded by the maximum entropy of the parameteric Markov chain (pMC) induced by such FSCs. This relationship allows us to recast the entropy maximization problem as a socalled parameter synthesis problem for the induced pMC. We then present an algorithm to synthesize an FSC that locally maximizes the entropy of a POMDP over FSCs with the same number of memory states. In a numerical example, we highlight the benefit of using an entropymaximizing FSC compared with an FSC that simply finds a feasible policy for accomplishing a task.more » « less