Replay-enhanced Continual Reinforcement Learning

Published: 20 Nov 2023, Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: Replaying past experiences has proven to be a highly effective approach for averting catastrophic forgetting in supervised continual learning. However, some crucial factors are still largely ignored, making it vulnerable to serious failure, when used as a solution to forgetting in continual reinforcement learning, even in the context of perfect memory where all data of previous tasks are accessible in the current task. On the one hand, since most reinforcement learning algorithms are not invariant to the reward scale, the previously well-learned tasks (with high rewards) may appear to be more salient to the current learning process than the current task (with small initial rewards). This causes the agent to concentrate on those salient tasks at the expense of generality on the current task. On the other hand, offline learning on replayed tasks while learning a new task may induce a distributional shift between the dataset and the learned policy on old tasks, resulting in forgetting. In this paper, we introduce RECALL, a replay-enhanced method that greatly improves the plasticity of existing replay-based methods on new tasks while effectively avoiding the recurrence of catastrophic forgetting in continual reinforcement learning. RECALL leverages adaptive normalization on approximate targets and policy distillation on old tasks to enhance generality and stability, respectively. Extensive experiments on the Continual World benchmark show that RECALL performs significantly better than purely perfect memory replay, and achieves comparable or better overall performance against state-of-the-art continual learning methods.
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Length: Long submission (more than 12 pages of main content)
Assigned Action Editor: ~Pablo_Samuel_Castro1
Submission Number: 1392