- Abstract: Goal-oriented learning has become a core concept in reinforcement learning (RL), extending the reward signal as a sole way to define tasks. However, as parameterizing value functions with goals increases the learning complexity, efficiently reusing past experience to update estimates towards several goals at once becomes desirable but usually requires independent updates per goal. Considering that a significant number of RL environments can support spatial coordinates as goals, such as on-screen location of the character in ATARI or SNES games, we propose a novel goal-oriented agent called Q-map that utilizes an autoencoder-like neural network to predict the minimum number of steps towards each coordinate in a single forward pass. This architecture is similar to Horde with parameter sharing and allows the agent to discover correlations between visual patterns and navigation. For example learning how to use a ladder in a game could be transferred to other ladders later. We show how this network can be efficiently trained with a 3D variant of Q-learning to update the estimates towards all goals at once. While the Q-map agent could be used for a wide range of applications, we propose a novel exploration mechanism in place of epsilon-greedy that relies on goal selection at a desired distance followed by several steps taken towards it, allowing long and coherent exploratory steps in the environment. We demonstrate the accuracy and generalization qualities of the Q-map agent on a grid-world environment and then demonstrate the efficiency of the proposed exploration mechanism on the notoriously difficult Montezuma's Revenge and Super Mario All-Stars games.
- Keywords: reinforcement learning, goal-oriented, convolutions, off-policy
- TL;DR: Q-map is a reinforcement learning agent that uses a convolutional autoencoder-like architecture to efficiently learn to navigate its environment.