Hierarchies of Reward Machines

Published: 24 Apr 2023, Last Modified: 15 Jun 2023ICML 2023 OralPosterEveryoneRevisions
Abstract: Reward machines (RMs) are a recent formalism for representing the reward function of a reinforcement learning task through a finite-state machine whose edges encode subgoals of the task using high-level events. The structure of RMs enables the decomposition of a task into simpler and independently solvable subtasks that help tackle long-horizon and/or sparse reward tasks. We propose a formalism for further abstracting the subtask structure by endowing an RM with the ability to call other RMs, thus composing a hierarchy of RMs (HRM). We exploit HRMs by treating each call to an RM as an independently solvable subtask using the options framework, and describe a curriculum-based method to learn HRMs from traces observed by the agent. Our experiments reveal that exploiting a handcrafted HRM leads to faster convergence than with a flat HRM, and that learning an HRM is feasible in cases where its equivalent flat representation is not.
Submission Number: 4334