Geometric Entropic Exploration

Abstract

Exploration is essential for solving complex Reinforcement Learning (RL) tasks. Maximum State-Visitation Entropy (MSVE) formulates the exploration problem as a well-defined policy optimization problem whose solution aims at visiting all states as uniformly as possible. This is in contrast to standard uncertainty-based approaches where exploration is transient and eventually vanishes. However, existing approaches to MSVE are theoretically justified only for discrete state-spaces as they are oblivious to the geometry of continuous domains. We address this challenge by introducing Geometric Entropy Maximisation (GEM), a new algorithm that maximises the geometry-aware Shannon entropy of state-visits in both discrete and continuous domains. Our key theoretical contribution is casting geometry-aware MSVE exploration as a tractable problem of optimising a simple and novel noise-contrastive objective function. In our experiments, we show the efficiency of GEM in solving several RL problems with sparse rewards, compared against other deep RL exploration approaches.

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