- TL;DR: A method for reward-focused efficient exploration in RL using temporal difference errors to train an exploration Q-function
- Abstract: A major challenge in reinforcement learning is exploration, especially when reward landscapes are sparse. Several recent methods provide an intrinsic motivation to explore by directly encouraging agents to seek novel states. A potential disadvantage of pure state novelty-seeking behavior is that unknown states are treated equally regardless of their potential for future reward. In this paper, we propose an exploration objective using the temporal difference error experienced on extrinsic rewards as a secondary reward signal for exploration in deep reinforcement learning. Our objective yields novelty-seeking in the absence of extrinsic reward, while accelerating exploration of reward-relevant states in sparse (but nonzero) reward landscapes. This objective draws inspiration from dopaminergic pathways in the brain that influence animal behavior. We implement the objective with an adversarial Q-learning method in which Q and Qx are the action-value functions for extrinsic and secondary rewards, respectively. Secondary reward is given by the absolute value of the TD-error of Q. Training is off-policy, based on a replay buffer containing a mix of trajectories sampled using Q and Qx. We characterize performance on a set of continuous control benchmark tasks, and demonstrate comparable or faster convergence on all tasks when compared with other state-of-the-art exploration methods.
- Keywords: Deep Reinforcement Learning, Exploration