Roles of Knowledge in Motor Learning

Unknown author (1987-02-01)

The goal of this thesis is to apply the computational approach to motor learning, i.e., describe the constraints that enable performance improvement with experience and also the constraints that must be satisfied by a motor learning system, describe what is being computed in order to achieve learning, and why it is being computed. The particular tasks used to assess motor learning are loaded and unloaded free arm movement, and the thesis includes work on rigid body load estimation, arm model estimation, optimal filtering for model parameter estimation, and trajectory learning from practice. Learning algorithms have been developed and implemented in the context of robot arm control. The thesis demonstrates some of the roles of knowledge in learning. Powerful generalizations can be made on the basis of knowledge of system structure, as is demonstrated in the load and arm model estimation algorithms. Improving the performance of parameter estimation algorithms used in learning involves knowledge of the measurement noise characteristics, as is shown in the derivation of optimal filters. Using trajectory errors to correct commands requires knowledge of how command errors are transformed into performance errors, i.e., an accurate model of the dynamics of the controlled system, as is demonstrated in the trajectory learning work. The performance demonstrated by the algorithms developed in this thesis should be compared with algorithms that use less knowledge, such as table based schemes to learn arm dynamics, previous single trajectory learning algorithms, and much of traditional adaptive control.