Reinforcement Learning with Perturbed Rewards


Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Recent studies have shown the vulnerability of reinforcement learning (RL) models in noisy settings. The sources of noises differ across scenarios. For instance, in practice, the observed reward channel is often subject to noise (e.g., when observed rewards are collected through sensors), and thus observed rewards may not be credible as a result. Also, in applications such as robotics, a deep reinforcement learning (DRL) algorithm can be manipulated to produce arbitrary errors. In this paper, we consider noisy RL problems where observed rewards by RL agents are generated with a reward confusion matrix. We call such observed rewards as perturbed rewards. We develop an unbiased reward estimator aided robust RL framework that enables RL agents to learn in noisy environments while observing only perturbed rewards. Our framework draws upon approaches for supervised learning with noisy data. The core ideas of our solution include estimating a reward confusion matrix and defining a set of unbiased surrogate rewards. We prove the convergence and sample complexity of our approach. Extensive experiments on different DRL platforms show that policies based on our estimated surrogate reward can achieve higher expected rewards, and converge faster than existing baselines. For instance, the state-of-the-art PPO algorithm is able to obtain 67.5% and 46.7% improvements in average on five Atari games, when the error rates are 10% and 30% respectively.
  • Keywords: robust reinforcement learning, noisy reward, sample complexity
  • TL;DR: A new approach for learning with noisy rewards in reinforcement learning
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