Temporal Difference Variational Auto-Encoder
One motivation for learning generative models of environments is to use them as simulators for model-based reinforcement learning. Yet, it is intuitively clear that when time horizons are long, rolling out single step transitions is inefficient and often prohibitive. In this paper, we propose a generative model that learns state representations containing explicit beliefs about states several time steps in the future and that can be rolled out directly in these states without executing single step transitions. The model is trained on pairs of temporally separated time points, using an analogue of temporal difference learning used in reinforcement learning, taking the belief about possible futures at one time point as a bootstrap for training the belief at an earlier time. While we focus purely on the study of the model rather than its use in reinforcement learning, the model architecture we design respects agents' constraints as it builds the representation online.