Abstract: In cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning, a team of agents works together to achieve a common goal. Different environments or tasks may require varying degrees of coordination among agents in order to achieve the goal in an optimal way. The nature of coordination will depend on properties of the environment—its spatial layout, distribution of obstacles, dynamics, etc. We term this variation of properties within an environment as heterogeneity. Existing literature has not sufficiently addressed the fact that different environments may have different levels of heterogeneity. We formalize the notions of coordination level and heterogeneity level of an environment and present HECOGrid, a suite of multi-agent RL environments that facilitates empirical evaluation of different MARL approaches across different levels of coordination and environmental heterogeneity by providing a quantitative control over coordination and heterogeneity levels of the environment. Further, we propose a Centralized Training Decentralized Execution learning approach called Stateful Active Facilitator (SAF) that enables agents to work efficiently in high-coordination and high-heterogeneity environments through a differentiable and shared knowledge source used during training and dynamic selection from a shared pool of policies. We evaluate SAF and compare its performance against baselines IPPO and MAPPO on HECOGrid. Our results show that SAF consistently outperforms the baselines across different tasks and different heterogeneity and coordination levels.
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