Neural Replicator Dynamics

Abstract

In multiagent learning, agents interact in inherently nonstationary environments due to their concurrent policy updates. It is, therefore, paramount to develop and analyze algorithms that learn effectively despite these nonstationarities. A number of works have successfully conducted this analysis under the lens of evolutionary game theory (EGT), wherein a population of individuals interact and evolve based on biologically-inspired operators. These studies have mainly focused on establishing connections to value-iteration based approaches in stateless or tabular games. We extend this line of inquiry to formally establish links between EGT and policy gradient (PG) methods, which have been extensively applied in single and multiagent learning. We pinpoint weaknesses of the commonly-used softmax PG algorithm in adversarial and nonstationary settings and contrast PG's behavior to that predicted by replicator dynamics (RD), a central model in EGT. We consequently provide theoretical results that establish links between EGT and PG methods, then derive Neural Replicator Dynamics (NeuRD), a parameterized version of RD that constitutes a novel method with several advantages. First, as NeuRD reduces to the well-studied no-regret Hedge algorithm in the tabular setting, it inherits no-regret guarantees that enable convergence to equilibria in games. Second, NeuRD is shown to be more adaptive to nonstationarity, in comparison to PG, when learning in canonical games and imperfect information benchmarks including Poker. Thirdly, modifying any PG-based algorithm to use the NeuRD update rule is straightforward and incurs no added computational costs. Finally, while single-agent learning is not the main focus of the paper, we verify empirically that NeuRD is competitive in these settings with a recent baseline algorithm.

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