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Fingerprint Policy Optimisation for Robust Reinforcement Learning

Supratik Paul‚ Michael A. Osborne and Shimon Whiteson


Policy gradient methods ignore the potential value of adjusting environment variables: unobservable state features that are randomly determined by the environment in a physical setting, but are controllable in a simulator. This can lead to slow learning, or convergence to suboptimal policies, if the environment variable has a large impact on the transition dynamics. In this paper, we present fingerprint policy optimisation (FPO), which finds a policy that is optimal in expectation across the distribution of environment variables. The central idea is to use Bayesian optimisation (BO) to actively select the distribution of the environment variable that maximises the improvement generated by each iteration of the policy gradient method. To make this BO practical, we contribute two easy-to-compute low-dimensional fingerprints of the current policy. Our experiments show that FPO can efficiently learn policies that are robust to significant rare events, which are unlikely to be observable under random sampling, but are key to learning good policies.

Book Title
ICML 2019: Proceedings of the Thirty−Sixth International Conference on Machine Learning