Population-Guided Parallel Policy Search for Reinforcement Learning

Whiyoung Jung, Giseung Park, Youngchul Sung

Keywords: policy gradient, reinforcement learning

Abstract: In this paper, a new population-guided parallel learning scheme is proposed to enhance the performance of off-policy reinforcement learning (RL). In the proposed scheme, multiple identical learners with their own value-functions and policies share a common experience replay buffer, and search a good policy in collaboration with the guidance of the best policy information. The key point is that the information of the best policy is fused in a soft manner by constructing an augmented loss function for policy update to enlarge the overall search region by the multiple learners. The guidance by the previous best policy and the enlarged range enable faster and better policy search, and monotone improvement of the expected cumulative return by the proposed scheme is proved theoretically. Working algorithms are constructed by applying the proposed scheme to the twin delayed deep deterministic (TD3) policy gradient algorithm, and numerical results show that the constructed P3S-TD3 outperforms most of the current state-of-the-art RL algorithms, and the gain is significant in the case of sparse reward environment.

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