OpenAI Gym has really normalized the way reinforcement learning is performed. It makes it possible for data scientists to separate model development and environment setup/building and to focus on what they really should be focusing on.

Quoting from Gym website:

Background: Why Gym? (2016)

Reinforcement learning (RL) is the subfield of machine learning concerned with decision making and motor control. It studies how an agent can learn how to achieve goals in a complex, uncertain environment. It’s exciting for two reasons:

  • RL is very general, encompassing all problems that involve making a sequence of decisions: for example, controlling a robot’s motors so that it’s able to run and jump, making business decisions like pricing and inventory management, or playing video games and board games. RL can even be applied to supervised learning problems with sequential or structured outputs.
  • RL algorithms have started to achieve good results in many difficult environments. RL has a long history, but until recent advances in deep learning, it required lots of problem-specific engineering. DeepMind’s Atari results, BRETT from Pieter Abbeel’s group, and AlphaGo all used deep RL algorithms which did not make too many assumptions about their environment, and thus can be applied in other settings.

However, RL research is also slowed down by two factors:

  • The need for better benchmarks. In supervised learning, progress has been driven by large labeled datasets like ImageNet. In RL, the closest equivalent would be a large and diverse collection of environments. However, the existing open-source collections of RL environments don’t have enough variety, and they are often difficult to even set up and use.
  • Lack of standardization of environments used in publications. Subtle differences in the problem definition, such as the reward function or the set of actions, can drastically alter a task’s difficulty. This issue makes it difficult to reproduce published research and compare results from different papers.

Gym is an attempt to fix both problems.

I was wondering if there is something equivalent for supervised or unsupervised learning. I believe such a tool will be useful for the same reasons. Am I missing something? Or is there there something already out there?


1 Answer 1


One standard way to represent data for both supervised and unsupervised learning is the tidy dataframe. Tidy dataframe is putting data into tabular form where each row is an observation and each column is a feature. Once data is in that form, machine learning modeling can take place.


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