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Uncertainty-Driven Exploration for Generalization in Reinforcement Learning
Yiding Jiang · J. Zico Kolter · Roberta Raileanu
Event URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=GZDsKahGY-2 »

Value-based methods tend to outperform policy optimization methods when trained and tested in single environments; however, they significantly underperform when trained on multiple environments with similar characteristics and tested on new ones from the same distribution. We investigate the potential reasons behind the poor generalization performance of value-based methods and discover that exploration plays a crucial role in these settings. Exploration is helpful not only for finding optimal solutions to the training environments, but also for acquiring knowledge that helps generalization to other unseen environments. We show how to make value-based methods competitive with policy optimization methods in these settings by using uncertainty-driven exploration and distribtutional RL. Our algorithm is the first value-based method to achieve state-of-the-art on both Procgen and Crafter, two challenging benchmarks for generalization in RL.

Author Information

Yiding Jiang (Carnegie Mellon University)
J. Zico Kolter (Carnegie Mellon University / Bosch Center for AI)

Zico Kolter is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and also serves as Chief Scientist of AI Research for the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence. His work focuses on the intersection of machine learning and optimization, with a large focus on developing more robust, explainable, and rigorous methods in deep learning. In addition, he has worked on a number of application areas, highlighted by work on sustainability and smart energy systems. He is the recipient of the DARPA Young Faculty Award, and best paper awards at KDD, IJCAI, and PESGM.

Roberta Raileanu (FAIR)

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