what is reinforcement learning?

Reinforcement learning makes a sequence of decisions by training a machine learning algorithm. It is necessary for an agent in learning reinforcement algorithms to achieve goals in an uncertain complex environment. The algorithm also enables solving the problem of collective action in a complex environment and can also achieve goals in a probabilistic situation.

What is reinforcement learning? In a reinforcement learning setting, the problem is decided during the learning phase. The concept of machine learning provides artificial intelligence with a rock-solid strategy to come up with solutions to problems in any field. The AI tries to maximize the sum of rewards received by performing actions. It prefers to perform a certain action if the reward is more than zero, rather than perform an otherwise redundant action.

The rewards are normalized according to a function that takes the agent’s current rewards, as well as an individual state model and an initial guess for its reward function. The rewards are adjusted dynamically to tune the best possible value of the reward. It is a method adopted from neural networks that enables you to easily learn how to maximize a specific dimension or attain a complex objective over many steps.

Working Of Reinforcement Learning

To illustrate the working mechanism of reinforcement learning you have to look at some simple approaches to enable a better understanding of the concept behind this machine learning algorithm.

1. Policy Based

In a policy-based reinforcement learning algorithm, you want to perform an action in every state and gain maximum reward in the future. For this reason, you have to implement a policy.

There are two types of policy-based reinforcement learning algorithms.

A. Deterministic

In the deterministic approach, policy produces the same action for any state. A deterministic policy formulation model is a method for the construction of a decision tree that uses an algorithm to answer the question of what should I do for each possible event. This allows for dynamic learning without having to learn the entire tree structure.

B. Stochastic

In the stochastic approach, an equation determines a certain probability of every action. An equation is used to determine the probability of an event that has happened or will happen. The event of interest is known as a stochastic process. It includes all possibilities in the universe that are not known to the observer. It is studied using probability theory and its applications include gambling, stock market, weather forecasting, pollution control, etc.

2. Value Based

In a value-based reinforcement learning method, it is necessary for you to maximize the value function because the agent utilizes policy and expects a long-term return of the current states. The value function is defined as the return on a given set of resources. In order to optimize the value function, we need to maximize it. The agent has two goals: maximize its utility and minimize its risk. A reward function is an equation that calculates how much gain or loss a given action will bring about for an agent over all possible states.

3. Model Based

In the model based reinforcement learning method, each environment requires a virtual model to enable the learning of agent in performing in that specific environment. The model based reinforcement learning method is a powerful and practical learning technique giving you the possibility to model complex behaviors with extremely high accuracy. The performance of the system is enhanced by using this technique in real world scenarios. Unlike traditional learning techniques, the simulations are much more realistic and can be used to study human behaviors.

The above-discussed approaches are necessary elements in understanding the working of a reinforcement learning algorithm. These different approaches are beneficial in different ways according to the need.

Types Of Reinforcement Learning

There are two types of reinforcement machine learning algorithms. Let’s have a look at them briefly.

1. Positive

Specific behavior that results in an event is defined as a Positive reinforcement learning type. It is beneficial in increasing the frequency and strength of the behavior and leaves a positive impact on the agent’s action.

Positive reinforcement learning enables you to sustain change and maximize performance for a more extended time. However, excessive reinforcement learning can lead to state over-optimization, which directly affects results.

2. Negative

The definition of negative reinforcement learning type is that strengthens the behavior that is the result of a negative condition that should have further avoided or stopped. It enables you to illustrate the performance’s maximum stand. However, the disadvantage of this type is that it strengthens minimum behavior to enough extent.


The above-discussed types are the actual reason behind the behavior of a system. They are beneficial in maximizing performance, increasing frequency, and strengthening the behavior of algorithmic-based systems. These two types are essential when implementing reinforcement learning algorithms in the system.

What Are The Applications Of Reinforcement Learning?

Take a look at some of the applications of reinforcement learning algorithms that are of great benefit to the respective industries. These applications are highly valuable if implemented correctly.

  • Planning of business strategies.
  • Data processing and machine learning.
  • Industrial automation through robotics.
  • Robot motion control and aircraft control.
  • Training systems for custom instructions.
  • Training systems for students’ material requirements.

The answer to what is reinforcement learning is that a reinforcement learning algorithm is a complex algorithm that is capable of learning from data and producing actions to match the data. This makes it an excellent tool for designers and engineers to learn from data.

Why Do We Need Reinforcement Learning?

Many problems such as image classification, classifying objects in videos, etc. are solved with artificial intelligence. AI algorithms such as reinforcement learning are used to solve the above problems.  However, in the case of image classification, artificial intelligence algorithms have their own limitations. In recent years, deep learning has proved to be very effective for image recognition. It is also known that image recognition works differently from video classification because there are so many different images. The problem is that when you are trying to classify dozens of images into one class, things get very complicated.

Let’s have a look at the list of the uses of the reinforcement learning algorithm.

  • It provides several options for acting according to the situation.
  • Enables discovering the highest reward for a certain action.
  • The learning agent receives a reward function.

These are some of the uses of reinforcement learning algorithms that we need to understand.


The reinforcement learning algorithm is a type of artificial intelligence that learns the correct actions to take based on the rewards it gets. It is applied to any problem such as computer vision, autonomous vehicle control, human-machine interaction, and more.

Reinforcement learning algorithms are used in artificial intelligence, particularly when it comes to determining the right actions to take, according to rewards collected by humans. It is also called as an artificial neural network that classifies images into dark and light spaces.