Why Q*

I started this website as a way of sharing my thoughts on leadership in the domain of data, analytics, and AI. You can find out more about me here. My friend and former colleague Colm also posts here from time to time.

So why the name Q*? In reinforcement learning, a type of machine learning, there is the concept of an optimal action-value function. This is represented by the symbol Q*. It identifies what action the agent (read: decision maker) should take given a particular state (read: situation) in order to maximise the expected cumulative reward (read: success). As this blog post explains:

"If we know Q*, then we’re basically done. It tells us the right action to take. The optimal value function specifies the best possible performance in the MDP. An MDP is solved when we know the optimal value function."

MDP stands for Markov Decision Process, or in other words, a series of  steps whereby the outcome is partly up to chance and partly up to the decision maker. Not unlike the decisions business leaders have to make on a daily basis.

This blog is called Q* as its aim is to help you take optimal actions through data. As in Q-learning, in life we approach Q* one step at a time. Enjoy!

— Ryan