Organizing Experience: A Deeper Look at Replay Mechanisms for Sample-based Planning in Continuous State Domains

IJCAI 2018

Model-based strategies for control are critical to obtain sample efficient learning. Dyna is a planning paradigm that naturally interleaves learning and planning, by simulating one-step experience to update the action-value function. This elegant planning strategy has been mostly explored in the tabular setting. The aim of this paper is to revisit sample-based planning, in stochastic and continuous domains with learned models. We first highlight the flexibility afforded by a model over Experience Replay (ER). Replay-based methods can be seen as stochastic planning methods that repeatedly sample from a buffer of recent agent-environment interactions and perform updates to improve data efficiency. We show that a model, as opposed to a replay buffer, is particularly useful for specifying which states to sample from during planning, such as predecessor states that propagate information in reverse from a state more quickly. We introduce a semi-parametric model learning approach, called Reweighted Experience Models (REMs), that makes it simple to sample next states or predecessors. We demonstrate that REM-Dyna exhibits similar advantages over replay-based methods in learning in continuous state problems, and that the performance gap grows when moving to stochastic domains, of increasing size.

View publication Download publication

Latest research news

View the blog