Abstract:This paper formalises the problem of online algorithm selection in the context of Reinforcement Learning (RL). The setup is as follows: given an episodic task and a finite number of off-policy RL algorithms, a meta-algorithm has to decide which RL algorithm is in control during the next episode so as to maximize the expected return. The article presents a novel meta-algorithm, called Epochal Stochastic Bandit Algorithm Selection (ESBAS). Its principle is to freeze the policy updates at each epoch, and to leave a rebooted stochastic bandit in charge of the algorithm selection. Under some assumptions, a thorough theoretical analysis demonstrates its near-optimality considering the structural sampling budget limitations. ESBAS is first empirically evaluated on a dialogue task where it is shown to outperform each individual algorithm in most configurations. ESBAS is then adapted to a true online setting where algorithms update their policies after each transition, which we call SSBAS. SSBAS is evaluated on a fruit collection task where it is shown to adapt the stepsize parameter more efficiently than the classical hyperbolic decay, and on an Atari game, where it improves the performance by a wide margin.
TL;DR:This paper formalises the problem of online algorithm selection in the context of Reinforcement Learning.