Divide and Conquer Reinforcement Learning


Nov 03, 2017 (modified: Nov 03, 2017) 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 optimizes an ensemble of policies, each on a different slice of the state space, and gradually unifies them 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 reinforcement learning 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.