Collaborating Authors

Cold-Start Reinforcement Learning with Softmax Policy Gradient

Neural Information Processing Systems

Policy-gradient approaches to reinforcement learning have two common and undesirable overhead procedures, namely warm-start training and sample variance reduction. In this paper, we describe a reinforcement learning method based on a softmax value function that requires neither of these procedures. Our method combines the advantages of policy-gradient methods with the efficiency and simplicity of maximum-likelihood approaches. We apply this new cold-start reinforcement learning method in training sequence generation models for structured output prediction problems. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.

Evolved Policy Gradients

Neural Information Processing Systems

We propose a metalearning approach for learning gradient-based reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms. The idea is to evolve a differentiable loss function, such that an agent, which optimizes its policy to minimize this loss, will achieve high rewards. The loss is parametrized via temporal convolutions over the agent's experience. Because this loss is highly flexible in its ability to take into account the agent's history, it enables fast task learning. Empirical results show that our evolved policy gradient algorithm (EPG) achieves faster learning on several randomized environments compared to an off-the-shelf policy gradient method.

On a Connection between Importance Sampling and the Likelihood Ratio Policy Gradient

Neural Information Processing Systems

Likelihood ratio policy gradient methods have been some of the most successful reinforcement learning algorithms, especially for learning on physical systems. We describe how the likelihood ratio policy gradient can be derived from an importance sampling perspective. This derivation highlights how likelihood ratio methods under-use past experience by (a) using the past experience to estimate {\em only} the gradient of the expected return $U(\theta)$ at the current policy parameterization $\theta$, rather than to obtain a more complete estimate of $U(\theta)$, and (b) using past experience under the current policy {\em only} rather than using all past experience to improve the estimates. We present a new policy search method, which leverages both of these observations as well as generalized baselines---a new technique which generalizes commonly used baseline techniques for policy gradient methods. Our algorithm outperforms standard likelihood ratio policy gradient algorithms on several testbeds.

Interpolated Policy Gradient: Merging On-Policy and Off-Policy Gradient Estimation for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

Off-policy model-free deep reinforcement learning methods using previously collected data can improve sample efficiency over on-policy policy gradient techniques. On the other hand, on-policy algorithms are often more stable and easier to use. This paper examines, both theoretically and empirically, approaches to merging on- and off-policy updates for deep reinforcement learning. Theoretical results show that off-policy updates with a value function estimator can be interpolated with on-policy policy gradient updates whilst still satisfying performance bounds. Our analysis uses control variate methods to produce a family of policy gradient algorithms, with several recently proposed algorithms being special cases of this family.

Apprenticeship Learning using Inverse Reinforcement Learning and Gradient Methods Machine Learning

In this paper we propose a novel gradient algorithm to learn a policy from an expert's observed behavior assuming that the expert behaves optimally with respect to some unknown reward function of a Markovian Decision Problem. The algorithm's aim is to find a reward function such that the resulting optimal policy matches well the expert's observed behavior. The main difficulty is that the mapping from the parameters to policies is both nonsmooth and highly redundant. Resorting to subdifferentials solves the first difficulty, while the second one is over- come by computing natural gradients. We tested the proposed method in two artificial domains and found it to be more reliable and efficient than some previous methods.