Integrating Episodic and Global Bonuses for Efficient ExplorationDownload PDF

08 Oct 2022, 17:47 (modified: 09 Dec 2022, 14:31)Deep RL Workshop 2022Readers: Everyone
Keywords: reinforcement learning, exploration, generalization
TL;DR: We study when episodic and global novelty bonuses are useful in contextual MDPs, and find that it depends on the amount of shared structure across contexts; by combining them, we get SOTA results on MiniHack.
Abstract: Exploration in environments which differ across episodes has received increasing attention in recent years. Current methods use some combination of global novelty bonuses, computed using the agent's entire training experience, and episodic novelty bonuses, computed using only experience from the current episode. However, the use of these two types of bonuses has been ad-hoc and poorly understood. In this work, we first shed light on the behavior these two kinds of bonuses on hard exploration tasks through easily interpretable examples. We find that the two types of bonuses succeed in different settings, with episodic bonuses being most effective when there is little shared structure between environments and global bonuses being effective when more structure is shared. We also find that combining the two bonuses leads to more robust behavior across both of these settings. Motivated by these findings, we then investigate different algorithmic choices for defining and combining function approximation-based global and episodic bonuses. This results in a new algorithm which sets a new state of the art across 18 tasks from the MiniHack suite used in prior work.
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