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MAVEN: Multi−Agent Variational Exploration

Anuj Mahajan‚ Tabish Rashid‚ Mikayel Samvelyan and Shimon Whiteson


Centralised training with decentralised execution is an important setting for cooperative deep multi-agent reinforcement learning due to communication constraints during execution and computational tractability in training. In this paper, we analyse value-based methods that are known to have superior performance in complex environments. We specifically focus on QMIX, the current state-of-the-art in this domain. We show that the representational constraints on the joint action-values introduced by QMIX and similar methods lead to provably poor exploration and suboptimality. Furthermore, we propose a novel approach called MAVEN that hybridises value and policy-based methods by introducing a latent space for hierarchical control. The value-based agents condition their behaviour on the shared latent variable controlled by a hierarchical policy. This allows MAVEN to achieve committed, temporally extended exploration, which is key to solving complex multi-agent tasks. Our experimental results show that MAVEN achieves significant performance improvements on the challenging SMAC domain.

Book Title
NeurIPS 2019: Proceedings of the Thirty−third Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems