Agent-Based Markov Modeling for Improved COVID-19 Mitigation Policies

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Roberto Capobianco
Varun Kompella
James Ault
Guni Sharon
Stacy Jong
Spencer Fox
Lauren Meyers
Peter R. Wurman
Peter Stone


The year 2020 saw the covid-19 virus lead to one of the worst global pandemics in history. As a result, governments around the world have been faced with the challenge of protecting public health while keeping the economy running to the greatest extent possible. Epidemiological models provide insight into the spread of these types of diseases and predict the effects of possible intervention policies. However, to date, even the most data-driven intervention policies rely on heuristics. In this paper, we study how reinforcement learning (RL) and Bayesian inference can be used to optimize mitigation policies that minimize economic impact without overwhelming hospital capacity. Our main contributions are (1) a novel agent-based pandemic simulator which, unlike traditional models, is able to model fine-grained interactions among people at specific locations in a community; (2) an RLbased methodology for optimizing fine-grained mitigation policies within this simulator; and (3) a Hidden Markov Model for predicting infected individuals based on partial observations regarding test results, presence of symptoms, and past physical contacts.

This article is part of the special track on AI and COVID-19.

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