Uncovering Directions of Instability via Quadratic Approximation of Deep Neural Loss in Reinforcement LearningDownload PDF

Published: 01 Feb 2023, Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023Submitted to ICLR 2023Readers: Everyone
Abstract: Learning in MDPs with highly complex state representations is currently possible due to multiple advancements in reinforcement learning algorithm design. However, this incline in complexity, and furthermore the increase in the dimensions of the observation came at the cost of non-robustness that can be taken advantage of (i.e. moving along worst-case directions in the observation space). To solve this policy instability problem we propose a novel method to ascertain the presence of these non-robust directions via quadratic approximation of the deep neural policy loss. Our method provides a theoretical basis for the fundamental cut-off between stable observations and non-robust observations. Furthermore, our technique is computationally efficient, and does not depend on the methods used to produce the worst-case directions. We conduct extensive experiments in the Arcade Learning Environment with several different non-robust alteration techniques. Most significantly, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach even in the setting where alterations are explicitly optimized to circumvent our proposed method.
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