强化学习(RL)是机器学习的一个领域,与软件代理应如何在环境中采取行动以最大化累积奖励的概念有关。除了监督学习和非监督学习外,强化学习是三种基本的机器学习范式之一。 强化学习与监督学习的不同之处在于,不需要呈现带标签的输入/输出对,也不需要显式纠正次优动作。相反,重点是在探索(未知领域)和利用(当前知识)之间找到平衡。 该环境通常以马尔可夫决策过程(MDP)的形式陈述,因为针对这种情况的许多强化学习算法都使用动态编程技术。经典动态规划方法和强化学习算法之间的主要区别在于,后者不假设MDP的确切数学模型,并且针对无法采用精确方法的大型MDP。

Building artificial intelligence (AI) that aligns with human values is an unsolved problem. Here, we developed a human-in-the-loop research pipeline called Democratic AI, in which reinforcement learning is used to design a social mechanism that humans prefer by majority. A large group of humans played an online investment game that involved deciding whether to keep a monetary endowment or to share it with others for collective benefit. Shared revenue was returned to players under two different redistribution mechanisms, one designed by the AI and the other by humans. The AI discovered a mechanism that redressed initial wealth imbalance, sanctioned free riders, and successfully won the majority vote. By optimizing for human preferences, Democratic AI may be a promising method for value-aligned policy innovation.

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Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) and Deep Multi-agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL) have achieved significant success across a wide range of domains, such as game AI, autonomous vehicles, robotics and finance. However, DRL and deep MARL agents are widely known to be sample-inefficient and millions of interactions are usually needed even for relatively simple game settings, thus preventing the wide application in real-industry scenarios. One bottleneck challenge behind is the well-known exploration problem, i.e., how to efficiently explore the unknown environments and collect informative experiences that could benefit the policy learning most. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive survey on existing exploration methods in DRL and deep MARL for the purpose of providing understandings and insights on the critical problems and solutions. We first identify several key challenges to achieve efficient exploration, which most of the exploration methods aim at addressing. Then we provide a systematic survey of existing approaches by classifying them into two major categories: uncertainty-oriented exploration and intrinsic motivation-oriented exploration. The essence of uncertainty-oriented exploration is to leverage the quantification of the epistemic and aleatoric uncertainty to derive efficient exploration. By contrast, intrinsic motivation-oriented exploration methods usually incorporate different reward agnostic information for intrinsic exploration guidance. Beyond the above two main branches, we also conclude other exploration methods which adopt sophisticated techniques but are difficult to be classified into the above two categories. In addition, we provide a comprehensive empirical comparison of exploration methods for DRL on a set of commonly used benchmarks. Finally, we summarize the open problems of exploration in DRL and deep MARL and point out a few future directions.

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The interconnection of vehicles in the future fifth generation (5G) wireless ecosystem forms the so-called Internet of vehicles (IoV). IoV offers new kinds of applications requiring delay-sensitive, compute-intensive and bandwidth-hungry services. Mobile edge computing (MEC) and network slicing (NS) are two of the key enabler technologies in 5G networks that can be used to optimize the allocation of the network resources and guarantee the diverse requirements of IoV applications. As traditional model-based optimization techniques generally end up with NP-hard and strongly non-convex and non-linear mathematical programming formulations, in this paper, we introduce a model-free approach based on deep reinforcement learning (DRL) to solve the resource allocation problem in MEC-enabled IoV network based on network slicing. Furthermore, the solution uses non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA) to enable a better exploitation of the scarce channel resources. The considered problem addresses jointly the channel and power allocation, the slice selection and the vehicles selection (vehicles grouping). We model the problem as a single-agent Markov decision process. Then, we solve it using DRL using the well-known DQL algorithm. We show that our approach is robust and effective under different network conditions compared to benchmark solutions.

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Reinforcement learning (RL) applications, where an agent can simply learn optimal behaviors by interacting with the environment, are quickly gaining tremendous success in a wide variety of applications from controlling simple pendulums to complex data centers. However, setting the right hyperparameters can have a huge impact on the deployed solution performance and reliability in the inference models, produced via RL, used for decision-making. Hyperparameter search itself is a laborious process that requires many iterations and computationally expensive to find the best settings that produce the best neural network architectures. In comparison to other neural network architectures, deep RL has not witnessed much hyperparameter tuning, due to its algorithm complexity and simulation platforms needed. In this paper, we propose a distributed variable-length genetic algorithm framework to systematically tune hyperparameters for various RL applications, improving training time and robustness of the architecture, via evolution. We demonstrate the scalability of our approach on many RL problems (from simple gyms to complex applications) and compared with Bayesian approach. Our results show that with more generations, optimal solutions that require fewer training episodes and are computationally cheap while being more robust for deployment. Our results are imperative to advance deep reinforcement learning controllers for real-world problems.

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Subgraph matching is a fundamental problem in various fields that use graph structured data. Subgraph matching algorithms enumerate all isomorphic embeddings of a query graph q in a data graph G. An important branch of matching algorithms exploit the backtracking search approach which recursively extends intermediate results following a matching order of query vertices. It has been shown that the matching order plays a critical role in time efficiency of these backtracking based subgraph matching algorithms. In recent years, many advanced techniques for query vertex ordering (i.e., matching order generation) have been proposed to reduce the unpromising intermediate results according to the preset heuristic rules. In this paper, for the first time we apply the Reinforcement Learning (RL) and Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) techniques to generate the high-quality matching order for subgraph matching algorithms. Instead of using the fixed heuristics to generate the matching order, our model could capture and make full use of the graph information, and thus determine the query vertex order with the adaptive learning-based rule that could significantly reduces the number of redundant enumerations. With the help of the reinforcement learning framework, our model is able to consider the long-term benefits rather than only consider the local information at current ordering step.Extensive experiments on six real-life data graphs demonstrate that our proposed matching order generation technique could reduce up to two orders of magnitude of query processing time compared to the state-of-the-art algorithms.

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We demonstrate an application of online transfer learning for a digital assets trading agent. This agent makes use of a powerful feature space representation in the form of an echo state network, the output of which is made available to a direct, recurrent reinforcement learning agent. The agent learns to trade the XBTUSD (Bitcoin versus US Dollars) perpetual swap derivatives contract on BitMEX on an intraday basis. By learning from the multiple sources of impact on the quadratic risk-adjusted utility that it seeks to maximise, the agent avoids excessive over-trading, captures a funding profit, and can predict the market's direction. Overall, our crypto agent realises a total return of 350%, net of transaction costs, over roughly five years, 71% of which is down to funding profit. The annualised information ratio that it achieves is 1.46.

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Exploration is crucial for training the optimal reinforcement learning (RL) policy, where the key is to discriminate whether a state visiting is novel. Most previous work focuses on designing heuristic rules or distance metrics to check whether a state is novel without considering such a discrimination process that can be learned. In this paper, we propose a novel method called generative adversarial exploration (GAEX) to encourage exploration in RL via introducing an intrinsic reward output from a generative adversarial network, where the generator provides fake samples of states that help discriminator identify those less frequently visited states. Thus the agent is encouraged to visit those states which the discriminator is less confident to judge as visited. GAEX is easy to implement and of high training efficiency. In our experiments, we apply GAEX into DQN and the DQN-GAEX algorithm achieves convincing performance on challenging exploration problems, including the game Venture, Montezuma's Revenge and Super Mario Bros, without further fine-tuning on complicate learning algorithms. To our knowledge, this is the first work to employ GAN in RL exploration problems.

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As Deep Learning continues to drive a variety of applications in edge and cloud data centers, there is a growing trend towards building large accelerators with several sub-accelerator cores/chiplets. This work looks at the problem of supporting multi-tenancy on such accelerators. In particular, we focus on the problem of mapping jobs from several DNNs simultaneously on an accelerator. Given the extremely large search space, we formulate the search as an optimization problem and develop an optimization framework called M3E. In addition, we develop a specialized optimization algorithm called MAGMA with custom operators to enable structured sample-efficient exploration. We quantitatively compare MAGMA with several state-of-the-art methods, black-box optimization, and reinforcement learning methods across different accelerator settings (large/small accelerators) and different sub-accelerator configurations (homogeneous/heterogeneous), and observe MAGMA can consistently find better mappings.

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Generating various strategies for a given task is challenging. However, it has already proven to bring many assets to the main learning process, such as improved behavior exploration. With the growth in the interest of heterogeneity in solution in evolutionary computation and reinforcement learning, many promising approaches have emerged. To better understand how one guides multiple policies toward distinct strategies and benefit from diversity, we need to analyze further the influence of the reward signal modulation and other evolutionary mechanisms on the obtained behaviors. To that effect, this paper considers an existing evolutionary reinforcement learning framework which exploits multi-objective optimization as a way to obtain policies that succeed at behavior-related tasks as well as completing the main goal. Experiments on the Atari games stress that optimization formulations which do not consider objectives equally fail at generating diversity and even output agents that are worse at solving the problem at hand, regardless of the obtained behaviors.

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Obtaining first-order regret bounds -- regret bounds scaling not as the worst-case but with some measure of the performance of the optimal policy on a given instance -- is a core question in sequential decision-making. While such bounds exist in many settings, they have proven elusive in reinforcement learning with large state spaces. In this work we address this gap, and show that it is possible to obtain regret scaling as $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{V_1^\star K})$ in reinforcement learning with large state spaces, namely the linear MDP setting. Here $V_1^\star$ is the value of the optimal policy and $K$ is the number of episodes. We demonstrate that existing techniques based on least squares estimation are insufficient to obtain this result, and instead develop a novel robust self-normalized concentration bound based on the robust Catoni mean estimator, which may be of independent interest.

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Most modern deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms are motivated by either the general policy improvement (GPI) or trust-region learning (TRL) frameworks. However, algorithms that strictly respect these theoretical frameworks have proven unscalable. Surprisingly, the only known scalable algorithms violate the GPI/TRL assumptions, e.g. due to required regularisation or other heuristics. The current explanation of their empirical success is essentially by "analogy": they are deemed approximate adaptations of theoretically sound methods. Unfortunately, studies have shown that in practice these algorithms differ greatly from their conceptual ancestors. In contrast, in this paper, we introduce a novel theoretical framework, named Mirror Learning, which provides theoretical guarantees to a large class of algorithms, including TRPO and PPO. While the latter two exploit the flexibility of our framework, GPI and TRL fit in merely as pathologically restrictive or impractical corner cases thereof. This suggests that the empirical performance of state-of-the-art methods is a direct consequence of their theoretical properties, rather than of aforementioned approximate analogies. Mirror learning sets us free to boldly explore novel, theoretically sound RL algorithms, a thus far uncharted wonderland.

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In reinforcement learning, it is common to let an agent interact for a fixed amount of time with its environment before resetting it and repeating the process in a series of episodes. The task that the agent has to learn can either be to maximize its performance over (i) that fixed period, or (ii) an indefinite period where time limits are only used during training to diversify experience. In this paper, we provide a formal account for how time limits could effectively be handled in each of the two cases and explain why not doing so can cause state aliasing and invalidation of experience replay, leading to suboptimal policies and training instability. In case (i), we argue that the terminations due to time limits are in fact part of the environment, and thus a notion of the remaining time should be included as part of the agent's input to avoid violation of the Markov property. In case (ii), the time limits are not part of the environment and are only used to facilitate learning. We argue that this insight should be incorporated by bootstrapping from the value of the state at the end of each partial episode. For both cases, we illustrate empirically the significance of our considerations in improving the performance and stability of existing reinforcement learning algorithms, showing state-of-the-art results on several control tasks.

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Excavation of irregular rigid objects in clutter, such as fragmented rocks and wood blocks, is very challenging due to their complex interaction dynamics and highly variable geometries. In this paper, we adopt reinforcement learning (RL) to tackle this challenge and learn policies to plan for a sequence of excavation trajectories for irregular rigid objects, given point clouds of excavation scenes. Moreover, we separately learn a compact representation of the point cloud on geometric tasks that do not require human labeling. We show that using the representation reduces training time for RL, while achieving similar asymptotic performance compare to an end-to-end RL algorithm. When using a policy trained in simulation directly on a real scene, we show that the policy trained with the representation outperforms end-to-end RL. To our best knowledge, this paper presents the first application of RL to plan a sequence of excavation trajectories of irregular rigid objects in clutter.

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Network load balancers are central components in modern data centers, that cooperatively distribute workloads of high arrival rates across application servers, thereby contribute to offering scalable services. The independent and "selfish" load balancing strategy is not necessarily the globally optimal one. This paper represents the load balancing problem as a cooperative team-game with limited observations over system states, and adopts multi-agent reinforcement learning methods to make fair load balancing decisions without inducing additional processing latency. On both a simulation and an emulation system, the proposed method is evaluated against other load balancing algorithms, including state-of-the-art heuristics and learning-based strategies. Experiments under different settings and complexities show the advantageous performance of the proposed method.

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