Improving Intrinsic Exploration by Creating Stationary Objectives

Published: 28 Oct 2023, Last Modified: 07 Dec 2023ALOE 2023 PosterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: Reinforcement Learning, Exploration, Intrinsic Objectives, Stationarity
TL;DR: We transform intrinsic reward methods into stationary MDPs via an augmentation to achieve a better exploration method.
Abstract: Exploration bonuses in reinforcement learning guide long-horizon exploration by defining custom intrinsic objectives. Several exploration objectives like count-based bonuses, pseudo-counts, and state-entropy maximization are non-stationary and hence are difficult to optimize for the agent. While this issue is generally known, it is usually omitted and solutions remain under-explored. The key contribution of our work lies in transforming the original non-stationary rewards into stationary rewards through an augmented state representation. For this purpose, we introduce the Stationary Objectives For Exploration (SOFE) framework. SOFE requires identifying sufficient statistics for different exploration bonuses and finding an efficient encoding of these statistics to use as input to a deep network. SOFE is based on proposing state augmentations that expand the state space but hold the promise of simplifying the optimization of the agent's objective. We show that SOFE improves the performance of several exploration objectives, including count-based bonuses, pseudo-counts, and state-entropy maximization. Moreover, SOFE outperforms prior methods that attempt to stabilize the optimization of intrinsic objectives. We demonstrate the efficacy of SOFE in hard-exploration problems, including sparse-reward tasks, pixel-based observations, 3D navigation, and procedurally generated environments.
Submission Number: 10