Bridging State and History Representations: Understanding Self-Predictive RL

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 13 Mar 2024ICLR 2024 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Code Of Ethics: I acknowledge that I and all co-authors of this work have read and commit to adhering to the ICLR Code of Ethics.
Keywords: Reinforcement Learning, Representation Learning, POMDPs, Information States, Self-supervised Learning
Submission Guidelines: I certify that this submission complies with the submission instructions as described on
TL;DR: We offer theoretical insights into learning self-predictive representations in POMDPs and validate our theories with our simplified algorithm across several benchmarks.
Abstract: Representations are at the core of all deep reinforcement learning (RL) methods for both Markov decision processes (MDPs) and partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDPs). Many representation learning methods and theoretical frameworks have been developed to understand what constitutes an effective representation. However, the relationships between these methods and the shared properties among them remain unclear. In this paper, we show that many of these seemingly distinct methods and frameworks for state and history abstractions are, in fact, based on a common idea of self-predictive abstraction. Furthermore, we provide theoretical insights into the widely adopted objectives and optimization, such as the stop-gradient technique, in learning self-predictive representations. These findings together yield a minimalist algorithm to learn self-predictive representations for states and histories. We validate our theories by applying our algorithm to standard MDPs, MDPs with distractors, and POMDPs with sparse rewards. These findings culminate in a set of preliminary guidelines for RL practitioners.
Anonymous Url: I certify that there is no URL (e.g., github page) that could be used to find authors' identity.
Supplementary Material: pdf
No Acknowledgement Section: I certify that there is no acknowledgement section in this submission for double blind review.
Primary Area: reinforcement learning
Submission Number: 1362