Many real-world applications involve teams of agents that have to coordinate their actions to reach a common goal against potential adversaries. This paper focuses on zero-sum games where a team of players faces an opponent, as is the case, for example, in Bridge, collusion in poker, and collusion in bidding. The possibility for the team members to communicate before gameplay---that is, coordinate their strategies ex ante---makes the use of behavioral strategies unsatisfactory. We introduce Soft Team Actor-Critic (STAC) as a solution to the team's coordination problem that does not require any prior domain knowledge. STAC allows team members to effectively exploit ex ante communication via exogenous signals that are shared among the team. STAC reaches near-optimal coordinated strategies both in perfectly observable and partially observable games, where previous deep RL algorithms fail to reach optimal coordinated behaviors.
Deep reinforcement learning algorithms have recently been used to train multiple interacting agents in a centralised manner whilst keeping their execution decentralised. When the agents can only acquire partial observations and are faced with a task requiring coordination and synchronisation skills, inter-agent communication plays an essential role. In this work, we propose a framework for multi-agent training using deep deterministic policy gradients that enables the concurrent, end-to-end learning of an explicit communication protocol through a memory device. During training, the agents learn to perform read and write operations enabling them to infer a shared representation of the world. We empirically demonstrate that concurrent learning of the communication device and individual policies can improve inter-agent coordination and performance, and illustrate how different communication patterns can emerge for different tasks.
In multi-agent reinforcement learning, centralised policies can only be executed if agents have access to either the global state or an instantaneous communication channel. An alternative approach that circumvents this limitation is to use centralised training of a set of decentralised policies. However, such policies severely limit the agents' ability to coordinate. We propose multi-agent common knowledge reinforcement learning (MACKRL), which strikes a middle ground between these two extremes. Our approach is based on the insight that, even in partially observable settings, subsets of agents often have some common knowledge that they can exploit to coordinate their behaviour. Common knowledge can arise, e.g., if all agents can reliably observe things in their own field of view and know the field of view of other agents. Using this additional information, it is possible to find a centralised policy that conditions only on agents' common knowledge and that can be executed in a decentralised fashion. A resulting challenge is then to determine at what level agents should coordinate. While the common knowledge shared among all agents may not contain much valuable information, there may be subgroups of agents that share common knowledge useful for coordination. MACKRL addresses this challenge using a hierarchical approach: at each level, a controller can either select a joint action for the agents in a given subgroup, or propose a partition of the agents into smaller subgroups whose actions are then selected by controllers at the next level. While action selection involves sampling hierarchically, learning updates are based on the probability of the joint action, calculated by marginalising across the possible decisions of the hierarchy. We show promising results on both a proof-of-concept matrix game and a multi-agent version of StarCraft II Micromanagement.
Social conventions - arbitrary ways to organize group behavior - are an important part of social life. Any agent that wants to enter an existing society must be able to learn its conventions (e.g. which side of the road to drive on, which language to speak) from relatively few observations or risk being unable to coordinate with everyone else. We consider the game theoretic framework of David Lewis which views the selection of a social convention as the selection of an equilibrium in a coordination game. We ask how to construct reinforcement learning based agents that can solve the convention learning task in the self-play paradigm: at training time the agent has access to a good model of the environment and a small amount of observations about how individuals in society act. The agent then has to construct a policy that is compatible with the test-time social convention. We study three environments from the literature which have multiple conventions: traffic, communication, and risky coordination. In each of these we observe that adding a small amount of imitation learning during self-play training greatly increases the probability that the strategy found by self-play fits well with the social convention the agent will face at test time. We show that this works even in an environment where standard independent multi-agent RL very rarely finds the correct test-time equilibrium.
Multi-agent reinforcement learning has shown promise on a variety of cooperative tasks as a consequence of recent developments in differentiable inter-agent communication. However, most architectures are limited to pools of homogeneous agents, limiting their applicability. Here we propose a modular framework for learning complex tasks in which a traditional monolithic agent is framed as a collection of cooperating heterogeneous agents. We apply this approach to model sensorimotor coordination in the neocortex as a multi-agent reinforcement learning problem. Our results demonstrate proof-of-concept of the proposed architecture and open new avenues for learning complex tasks and for understanding functional localization in the brain and future intelligent systems.