Regulatory Focus: Promotion and Prevention Inclinations in Policy Search

Anonymous

Sep 25, 2019 ICLR 2020 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • TL;DR: We implemented and tested the regulatory fit theory from psychology in RL using order statistics over path ensembles.
  • Abstract: The estimation of advantage is crucial for a number of reinforcement learning algorithms, as it directly influences the choices of future paths. In this work, we propose a family of estimates based on the order statistics over the path ensemble, which allows one to flexibly drive the learning process in a promotion focus or prevention focus. On top of this formulation, we systematically study the impacts of different regulatory focuses. Our findings reveal that regulatory focus, when chosen appropriately, can result in significant benefits. In particular, for the environments with sparse rewards, promotion focus would lead to more efficient exploration of the policy space; while for those where individual actions can have critical impacts, prevention focus is preferable. On various benchmarks, including MuJoCo continuous control, Terrain locomotion, Atari games, and sparse-reward environments, the proposed schemes consistently demonstrate improvement over mainstream methods, not only accelerating the learning process but also obtaining substantial performance gains.
  • Keywords: Reinforcement Learning, Regulatory Focus, Promotion and Prevention, Exploration
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