Hi there, welcome to Brian Tanner's research homepage. I just moved my page here from http://brian.tannerpages.com (a Joomla site on my own webserver).  I think using Google Sites is a win.

You can reach me at: brian@tannerpages.com


I'm currently a Ph.D student at the University of Alberta, studying reinforcement learning and artificial intelligence with Professor Richard Sutton.  I live in Edmonton with my wife Ariel, my son Lincoln (Link), and my two dogs Scooter and Trinity.


My research interests have always been in AI, specifically in creating intelligent systems that can learn and improve their performance with minimal human interference.  I want the agent to learn things for itself, and I don't mind if it takes longer.  I co-chaired a workshop at NIPS 2006 on this topic.  An important step on this path is to figure out how we can fairly evaluate AI algorithms so that we know what methods to prefer.  This has lead to an interest in empirical evaluation of reinforcement learning algorithms.  I was the technical committee chair for the 2008 RL-Competition, and am currently working on a large system for evaluating RL algorithms, the RL-Logbook.. 

I've also been busy with various open source projects like RL-Glue, RL-Viz, and the RL-Library.  You could say that I'm a big believer in improving the field by empowering the community with tools and projects that hopefully make their life easier.

Before my Ph.D, I did a Masters in Alberta, also with Rich, on Temporal-Difference Networks.  Before that, I got an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Manitoba, where I worked with Dr. John Anderson.

Curricula Vitae

My CV can be downloaded from Google base here.

Recent Blog Posts

Research Thoughts

Research Thoughts

  • Thoughts about the role of authors and reviewers in academic research John Langford had an interesting post (as usual) on his Hunch.net blog about Adversarial Research.  In the comment to his post, someone anonymously posted the following:I believe you ...
    Posted Jan 29, 2009, 7:12 PM by Brian Tanner
  • Radical Transparency in Research I've been stewing on some topics for a long time.  I'm a real zealot for strong experimental design and rigorous empiricism when evaluating my work and the work ...
    Posted Aug 6, 2008, 2:33 PM by Brian Tanner
Showing posts 1 - 2 of 5. View more »
Good Samaratin

Good Samaratin Posts

  • The easy way to get subversion revision information into your autotools project Introduction I have been trying to figure how to get the build number automatically included into my autotools project so that when I do ./myprogram --version it will print out ...
    Posted Jun 3, 2009, 7:25 AM by Brian Tanner
  • So You're Writing A Masters Thesis (At the U of A) This is a document I created in 2005 when I was putting my Masters together at the University of Alberta.  It might not be in great shape anymore, but I ...
    Posted Jul 20, 2008, 10:37 AM by Brian Tanner
Showing posts 1 - 2 of 6. View more »

Workshops and Events I've Helped Organize

2008 :: Reinforcement Learning Competition Workshop

Co-Chair with Shimon Whiteson and Adam White
Helsinki, Finland, International Conference on Machine Learning

2008 :: Barbados Reinforcement Learning Workshop

Co-Organized Sessions / Logistics
Holetown, Barbados

2007 - 2008 :: Reinforcement Learning Competition

Technical Commitee Chair

2006 :: Grounding Perception, Knowledge, and Cognition in Sensori-Motor Experience

Co-Chair with Michael James and David Wingate
Whistler, Canada, Advances in Neural Information Programming Systems (NIPS)

Open Source Software Projects

Here are some software projects I'm involved in. If you're interested in helping out or learning more, please contact me!


Click here to see a video of a talk I gave at the Machine Learning Open Source Software workshop at NIPS in 2008.

RL-Glue Extensions (Codecs)





2008 Technical Commitee Chair


Lead Developer/Designer


Lead Developer/Designer

BT RL Agent Library

Lead Developer/Designer

TD Networks

Lead Developer/Designer

Amazon Web Service Remote Signing

Lead Developer/Designer

My Family


Brian Tanner,
Feb 28, 2008, 8:30 PM