Presented By O’Reilly and Intel AI
Put AI to work
8-9 Oct 2018: Training
9-11 Oct 2018: Tutorials & Conference
London, UK

Deep reinforcement learning: How to avoid the hype and make it work for you

Dr. Sid J Reddy (Conversica)
16:00–16:40 Thursday, 11 October 2018
Implementing AI, Models and Methods
Location: King's Suite - Balmoral
Secondary topics:  Reinforcement Learning, Retail and e-commerce, Text, Language, and Speech

Who is this presentation for?

  • Developers, researchers, analysts, and product people

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of applied machine learning

What you'll learn

  • Explore reinforcement learning, deep learning with reinforcement learning, example applications of deep reinforcement learning, the Markov decision process, and conversational AI


Deep learning, or more specifically, deep reinforcement learning, has become a hot topic in the general rush to launch AI products. Some practitioners of deep reinforcement learning are prone to “Maslow’s hammer” cognitive bias, trying to solve a problem with deep reinforcement learning because they are fascinated by it or know it is good for marketing. Other practitioners, particularly small startups, are prone to fear of the unknown. Since deep reinforcement learning’s implementation in autonomous robots and self-driving cars is not well understood, they equate it to something that should be applied only when traditional deterministic AI and shallow machine learning models are tried and they fail.

Drawing on Conversica’s experience applying deep reinforcement learning to enable the company’s AI assistants to have autonomous multiturn conversations with millions of humans to fulfill business objectives, Sid Reddy explains how to avoid the hype and decide which use cases are best for its application. Sid shares best practices in deep reinforcement learning and highlights techniques that have been successful in various applications of artificial intelligence. Sid also discusses how to avoid some common pitfalls such as dimensionality curse, covers the basics of the Markov decision process, using conversational AI as an example, and explains how to optimally set up the environment, states, agent actions, transition probabilities, reward functions, and end states. You’ll also learn when to use end-to-end reinforcement learning and when it’s more effective to use deep reinforcement learning as a component.

Photo of Dr. Sid J Reddy

Dr. Sid J Reddy


Sid Reddy is chief scientist at Conversica. A recognized expert in natural language processing (NLP) and computational linguistics, Sid has designed, developed and contributed to dozens of NLP systems used in production in a wide array of use cases and industry verticals from healthcare, business intelligence, and life sciences to legal and ecommerce, including creating text-mining infrastructures from scratch at two startups and at the Mayo Clinic and founding an NLP lab at Northwestern University. Most recently, Sid was a principal applied scientist at Microsoft. His research ranges from acquiring lexical resources through distributed word vector representations learned from big data and applying them to improve state of the art in sequential labeling tasks to using functional theories of grammar for association extraction and question answering. He is a patented inventor, sought-after industry speaker, and published author with research featured in over 50 peer-reviewed publications and technical conferences. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University and UC Berkeley. Sid holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology and a PhD from Arizona State University.