Integrating Episodic Memory into a Reinforcement Learning Agent Using Reservoir Sampling

Kenny J. Young, Shuo Yang, Richard S. Sutton

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Oct 27, 2017) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Episodic memory is a psychology term which refers to the ability to recall specific events from the past. We suggest one advantage of this particular type of memory is the ability to easily assign credit to a specific state when remembered information is found to be useful. Inspired by this idea, and the increasing popularity of external memory mechanisms to handle long-term dependencies in deep learning systems, we propose a novel algorithm which uses a reservoir sampling procedure to maintain an external memory consisting of a fixed number of past states. The algorithm allows a deep reinforcement learning agent to learn online to preferentially remember those states which are found to be useful to recall later on. Critically this method allows for efficient online computation of gradient estimates with respect to the write process of the external memory. Thus unlike most prior mechanisms for external memory it is feasible to use in an online reinforcement learning setting.
  • TL;DR: External memory for online reinforcement learning based on estimating gradients over a novel reservoir sampling technique.
  • Keywords: reinforcement learning, external memory, deep learning, policy gradient, online learning
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