2 Canonical Problems and Applications

The vast array of sequential decision problems has produced at least 15 distinct communities (which we listed in section 1.2) that have developed methods for modeling and solving these problems. Just as written and spoken languages have evolved from different roots, these communities feature roughly eight fundamentally different notational systems, in addition to what could be called dialects, with notation derived from one of the core systems.

Hidden in these different notational “languages” are methods that are sometimes truly original, while others are creative evolutions, and yet others are simply the same method with a different name. Motivating the different methods are the classes of problems that have caught the imagination of each community. Not surprisingly, individual research communities steadily move into new problems, which then motivate new methods.

This chapter provides, in section 2.1, an overview of these different communities and their modeling style. This chapter provides very brief introductions to the most important canonical models of each community, in the notation of that community. In some cases we pause to hint at how we would take a different perspective. Then, section 2.2 summarizes the universal modeling framework that we will use in this book, which can be used to model each of the canonical problems in section 2.1. Finally, section 2.3 provides a short summary of different application settings.

2.1 Canonical ...

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