Divide-and-Conquer Reinforcement Learning

Dibya Ghosh, Avi Singh, Aravind Rajeswaran, Vikash Kumar, Sergey Levine

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Feb 24, 2018) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Standard model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms sample a new initial state for each trial, allowing them to optimize policies that can perform well even in highly stochastic environments. However, problems that exhibit considerable initial state variation typically produce high-variance gradient estimates for model-free RL, making direct policy or value function optimization challenging. In this paper, we develop a novel algorithm that instead partitions the initial state space into "slices", and optimizes an ensemble of policies, each on a different slice. The ensemble is gradually unified into a single policy that can succeed on the whole state space. This approach, which we term divide-and-conquer RL, is able to solve complex tasks where conventional deep RL methods are ineffective. Our results show that divide-and-conquer RL greatly outperforms conventional policy gradient methods on challenging grasping, manipulation, and locomotion tasks, and exceeds the performance of a variety of prior methods. Videos of policies learned by our algorithm can be viewed at https://sites.google.com/view/dnc-rl/
  • Keywords: deep reinforcement learning, reinforcement learning, policy gradients, model-free