Learning Continuous Control Policies by Stochastic Value Gradients

Abstract

We present a unified framework for learning continuous control policies using backpropagation. It supports stochastic control by treating stochasticity in the Bellman equation as a deterministic function of exogenous noise. The product is a spectrum of general policy gradient algorithms that range from model-free methods with value functions to model-based methods without value functions. We use learned models but only require observations from the environment instead of observations from model-predicted trajectories, minimizing the impact of compounded model errors. We apply these algorithms first to a toy stochastic control problem and then to several physics-based control problems in simulation. One of these variants, SVG(1), shows the effectiveness of learning models, value functions, and policies simultaneously in continuous domains.

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