SACAC hosts a monthly Guest Lecture specifically to expose undergraduate and postgraduate students to real-world control and automation problems and solutions. All members of SACAC are welcome to attend these online/hybrid events.


“Introduction to Bandit Problems in Reinforcement Learning”

by William Shipman

Principle Engineer, Measurement and Control Division, MINTEK


Reinforcement learning’s popularity has risen substantially over the last decade, led by gains in deep learning and abundant computing power. An important but sometimes neglected subfield is the bandit problem. Bandit algorithms are valuable for solving optimization problems under uncertain conditions, such as optimizing systems to satisfy economic and quality objectives. This lecture will explain the fundamentals of bandit problems and associated solutions, starting with discrete action spaces (tabular solutions) and a short worked-out example. More complex bandits with continuous action spaces will be tackled next. Finally, this lecture will conclude with practical examples of using bandits in the real world, drawing from robotics and mining.


William is the Principle Engineer within the Measurement and Control Division at MINTEK, researching machine learning methods for use in the mining and minerals industry. He studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering together with Information Technology at the University of Johannesburg, where he also completed his masters and doctoral degrees in engineering. His masters degree studied nonlinear MPC for a quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicle, while his PhD investigated image processing techniques for X-ray micro-tomography scans of ore samples.


The Council for Mineral Technology, or MINTEK, is a South African science council under the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. MINTEK is located in Johannesburg, near to the N1. We conduct research into all of the steps that are involved in processing ore, from crushing and grinding, through physical separation, hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes to the point of producing a refined product. We also provide a number of services and products to the South African and global mining and minerals industry. The Measurement and Control Division of MINTEK researches, develops and markets specialized instrumentation and advanced process control software.


The guest lecture will take place online on 27 May 2022, 11:00 – 12:00. Join the lecture through the link below.

WebEx meeting number: 2362 627 6765

Password: SACAC2022

This event is free of charge. No registration required.


Email: /

More information on this event