POMDPs for assisting homeless shelters – Computational and deployment challenges

Amulya Yadav, Hau Chan, Albert Jiang, Eric Rice, Ece Kamar, Barbara Grosz, Milind Tambe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


This paper looks at challenges faced during the ongoing deployment of HEALER, a POMDP based software agent that recommends sequential intervention plans for use by homeless shelters, who organize these interventions to raise awareness about HIV among homeless youth. HEALER’s sequential plans (built using knowledge of social networks of homeless youth) choose intervention participants strategically to maximize influence spread, while reasoning about uncertainties in the network. In order to compute its plans, HEALER (i) casts this influence maximization problem as a POMDP and solves it using a novel planner which scales up to previously unsolvable real-world sizes; (ii) and constructs social networks of homeless youth at low cost, using a Facebook application. HEALER is currently being deployed in the real world in collaboration with a homeless shelter. Initial feedback from the shelter officials has been positive but they were surprised by the solutions generated by HEALER as these solutions are very counter-intuitive. Therefore, there is a need to justify HEALER’s solutions in a way that mirrors the officials’ intuition. In this paper, we report on progress made towards HEALER’s deployment and detail first steps taken to tackle the issue of explaining HEALER’s solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAutonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, IFAAMAS 2016 Workshops, Best Papers, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsNardine Osman, Carles Sierra
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9783319468396
StatePublished - 2016
EventInternational Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, IFAAMAS 2016 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: May 9 2016May 10 2016

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10003 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceInternational Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, IFAAMAS 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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