Can Deep Reinforcement Learning solve Erdos-Selfridge-Spencer Games?

Maithra Raghu, Alex Irpan, Jacob Andreas, Robert Kleinberg, Quoc Le, Jon Kleinberg

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Feb 15, 2018) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Deep reinforcement learning has achieved many recent successes, but our understanding of its strengths and limitations is hampered by the lack of rich environments in which we can fully characterize optimal behavior, and correspondingly diagnose individual actions against such a characterization. Here we consider a family of combinatorial games, arising from work of Erdos, Selfridge, and Spencer, and we propose their use as environments for evaluating and comparing different approaches to reinforcement learning. These games have a number of appealing features: they are challenging for current learning approaches, but they form (i) a low-dimensional, simply parametrized environment where (ii) there is a linear closed form solution for optimal behavior from any state, and (iii) the difficulty of the game can be tuned by changing environment parameters in an interpretable way. We use these Erdos-Selfridge-Spencer games not only to compare different algorithms, but also to compare approaches based on supervised and reinforcement learning, to analyze the power of multi-agent approaches in improving performance, and to evaluate generalization to environments outside the training set.
  • TL;DR: We adapt a family of combinatorial games with tunable difficulty and an optimal policy expressible as linear network, developing it as a rich environment for reinforcement learning, showing contrasts in performance with supervised learning, and analyzing multiagent learning and generalization.
  • Keywords: deep learning, deep reinforcement learning, combinatorial games, optimality