6 Real-world Reinforcement Learning Examples

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Apr 09, 2022

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Autonomous systems must learn to make astute judgments to reach the full potential of Artificial Intelligence. Reinforcement learning is a sturdy framework for doing so. 

It is a learning model that aims to replicate the trial-and-error learning process required in many situations lacking instructive signals.

When the agent (machine) makes good choices, it is rewarded, and a penalty awaits faulty ones. Therefore, it will strive to decrease the number of incorrect actions while increasing the number of correct ones.

You can find Reinforcement learning algorithms in robotics, gaming, marketing analytics, and healthcare, to name a few.

Industrial Automation

Robotics experts experiment with reinforcement learning to simplify and speed up the programming of industrial robots. Being the most common reinforcement learning example in real life, robots involved in manufacturing can train themselves from mundane tasks like picking objects to complicated assemblage. 

For instance, consider picking up objects and placing them elsewhere. It attempts to pick them up while filming the process. Moreover, it recalls how the article appears each time it succeeds or fails and uses this information to develop a reinforcement learning model that regulates its activities. 

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Computer Games

Games provide a diverse and challenging environment for testing Reinforcement learning systems. Being the best Reinforcement learning real-life example, the finest computer players apply this technique in various games.

For instance, take Othello. Reinforcement learning bots learn to play Othello without prior knowledge or strategy from humans. They understand how to play the game through trial-and-error methods, testing every possible path until they locate the one with the fewest obstacles. As a result, they choose the most effective winning strategy.

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Another real life example of reinforcement learning in the gaming sector is AlphaGo, which overpowered Mr. Fan Hui, the three-time European Champion, in its first encounter. AlphaGo defeated him with a 5-0 in the first game.

Mr. Lee Sedol, the eighteen-time world champion, then faced up against AlphaGo. AlphaGo defeated him with a margin of 4-1. 

Using Reinforced Learning methods, it tried millions of ways to win the game, learned from its pitfalls, and discovered the shortest route to success. Reinforcement learning is so effective that AlphaGo has the highest professional ranking, nine dan.

Targeted Marketing

Another reinforcement learning real-life example is customer retention and targeted marketing. Industries such as retail, music, movies, e-commerce, newsgroups, among others, use recommendation system models built on reinforcement learning.

It is critical to present users with content that they find interesting. Identifying and convincing customers to consume the most appealing content could result in substantial revenue for the company. Moreover, reinforcement learning for targeted marketing and recommendation systems helps lead generation, conversion, and business development.

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In such cases, reinforcement learning models recommend the most relevant content to customers based on various data entities such as interests, trends, user information, etc. Companies like Spotify and Netflix use sophisticated reinforcement learning-based recommendation systems to make song and movie recommendations. 


Various self-improving chatbots use reinforcement learning models. They strive to improve chatbot performance by utilizing data from user conversations rather than developing a dialog system from scratch.

One real life example of reinforcement learning is MILABOT, a deep reinforcement learning chatbot created for the Amazon Alexa Prize competition by the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA). MILABOT can converse with humans in speech and text about common small talk topics.

Using crowdsourced data and real-world user interactions, MILABOT uses reinforcement learning to select an appropriate response from its ensemble of models and present its users with a personalized chat experience.

A chatbot working on a reinforced learning model has technologies that allow it to communicate with humans effectively. Therefore, businesses benefit from implementing such interaction automation solutions.

Data Center Cooling

Deep reinforcement learning techniques can control the cooling system of a simulated data center. Reinforcement learning algorithms can automatically optimize the performance of a system without the need for explicit model knowledge. It is only necessary to create a reward signal.

Let us take a real life example of reinforcement learning in data center cooling. By applying machine learning of DeepMind to Google data centers, they reduced the amount of energy they use for cooling by up to 40%.

AlphaGo, a Google and DeepMind algorithm, determines the best framework of cooling infrastructure, such as fans and ventilation, that will most effectively reduce energy consumption using trial-and-error reinforcement learning.

Furthermore, Google intends to apply this method to other challenges in the data center and beyond in the coming days. This technology has the potential to increase manufacturing throughput, lower semiconductor manufacturing energy, and improve power plant conversion.

Learn more about reinforcement learning by doing a Data Science course online, at your own pace, in the comfort of your home. 


Reinforcement learning has consistently resulted in better outcomes in the healthcare system.

One of the best reinforcement learning examples in health, KenSci uses reinforcement learning to predict illnesses and treatments, allowing doctors and patients to intervene earlier.

Moreover, Ciox Health employs reinforcement learning to improve health data control and data alteration, streamlining workflows. Also, PathAI has created cutting-edge technology that uses reinforcement learning to help pathologists make more accurate and timely diagnoses.

Finally, Insitro combines reinforcement learning and information science with cutting-edge laboratory expertise to develop drugs.

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Wrapping it Up

Reinforcement learning is a machine learning paradigm in which agents learn by trial and error how to complete tasks. They aim to maximize the cumulative rewards.

Because it combines the goal orientation of “supervised learning” with the flexibility of “unsupervised learning,” reinforcement learning is critical in developing artificial intelligence applications that require successful problem-solving in complex situations.

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