Model-Free Active Exploration in Reinforcement Learning

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 15 Jan 2024NeurIPS 2023 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: reinforcement learning; best policy identification; model free; exploration; sample complexity
Abstract: We study the problem of exploration in Reinforcement Learning and present a novel model-free solution. We adopt an information-theoretical viewpoint and start from the instance-specific lower bound of the number of samples that have to be collected to identify a nearly-optimal policy. Deriving this lower bound along with the optimal exploration strategy entails solving an intricate optimization problem and requires a model of the system. In turn, most existing sample optimal exploration algorithms rely on estimating the model. We derive an approximation of the instance-specific lower bound that only involves quantities that can be inferred using model-free approaches. Leveraging this approximation, we devise an ensemble-based model-free exploration strategy applicable to both tabular and continuous Markov decision processes. Numerical results demonstrate that our strategy is able to identify efficient policies faster than state-of-the-art exploration approaches.
Supplementary Material: pdf
Submission Number: 11410