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In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper

Transformers are Sample-Efficient World Models

Vincent Micheli · Eloi Alonso · Fran├žois Fleuret



Deep reinforcement learning agents are notoriously sample inefficient, which considerably limits their application to real-world problems. Recently, many model-based methods have been designed to address this issue, with learning in the imagination of a world model being one of the most prominent approaches. However, while virtually unlimited interaction with a simulated environment sounds appealing, the world model has to be accurate over extended periods of time. Motivated by the success of Transformers in sequence modeling tasks, we introduce IRIS, a data-efficient agent that learns in a world model composed of a discrete autoencoder and an autoregressive Transformer. With the equivalent of only two hours of gameplay in the Atari 100k benchmark, IRIS achieves a mean human normalized score of 1.046, and outperforms humans on 10 out of 26 games, setting a new state of the art for methods without lookahead search. To foster future research on Transformers and world models for sample-efficient reinforcement learning, we release our code and models at

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