CUP: Critic-Guided Policy Reuse

Jin Zhang · Siyuan Li · Chongjie Zhang

Hall J #633

Keywords: [ policy reuse ] [ Reinforcement Learning ] [ transfer learning ]


The ability to reuse previous policies is an important aspect of human intelligence. To achieve efficient policy reuse, a Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) agent needs to decide when to reuse and which source policies to reuse. Previous methods solve this problem by introducing extra components to the underlying algorithm, such as hierarchical high-level policies over source policies, or estimations of source policies' value functions on the target task. However, training these components induces either optimization non-stationarity or heavy sampling cost, significantly impairing the effectiveness of transfer. To tackle this problem, we propose a novel policy reuse algorithm called Critic-gUided Policy reuse (CUP), which avoids training any extra components and efficiently reuses source policies. CUP utilizes the critic, a common component in actor-critic methods, to evaluate and choose source policies. At each state, CUP chooses the source policy that has the largest one-step improvement over the current target policy, and forms a guidance policy. The guidance policy is theoretically guaranteed to be a monotonic improvement over the current target policy. Then the target policy is regularized to imitate the guidance policy to perform efficient policy search. Empirical results demonstrate that CUP achieves efficient transfer and significantly outperforms baseline algorithms.

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