Poster

Regularization Matters in Policy Optimization - An Empirical Study on Continuous Control

Zhuang Liu · Xuanlin Li · Bingyi Kang · trevor darrell

Keywords: [ Deep Reinforcement Learning ] [ Regularization ] [ Continuous Control ] [ Policy Optimization ]

Abstract: Deep Reinforcement Learning (Deep RL) has been receiving increasingly more attention thanks to its encouraging performance on a variety of control tasks. Yet, conventional regularization techniques in training neural networks (e.g., $L_2$ regularization, dropout) have been largely ignored in RL methods, possibly because agents are typically trained and evaluated in the same environment, and because the deep RL community focuses more on high-level algorithm designs. In this work, we present the first comprehensive study of regularization techniques with multiple policy optimization algorithms on continuous control tasks. Interestingly, we find conventional regularization techniques on the policy networks can often bring large improvement, especially on harder tasks. Our findings are shown to be robust against training hyperparameter variations. We also compare these techniques with the more widely used entropy regularization. In addition, we study regularizing different components and find that only regularizing the policy network is typically the best. We further analyze why regularization may help generalization in RL from four perspectives - sample complexity, reward distribution, weight norm, and noise robustness. We hope our study provides guidance for future practices in regularizing policy optimization algorithms. Our code is available at https://github.com/xuanlinli17/iclr2021_rlreg .

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