Thomas Dean, Robert Givan
We use the notion of stochastic bisimulation homogenity to analyze planning problems represented as Markov decision processes (MDPs). Informally, a partition of the state space for an MDP is said to be homogeneous if for each action, states in the same block have the same probability of being carried to each other block. We provide an algorithm for finding the coarsest homogeneous reflnement of any partition of the state space of an MDP. The resulting partition can be used to construct a reduced MDP which is minimal in a well defined sense and can be used to solve the original MDP. Our algorithm is an adaptation of known automata minimization algorithms, and is designed to operate naturally on factored or implicit representations in which the full state space is never explicitly enumerated. We show that simple variations on this algorithm are equivalent or closely similar to several different recently published algorithms for finding optimal solutions to (partially or fully observable) factored Markov decision processes, thereby providing alternative descriptions of the methods and results regarding those algorithms.