CAQL: Continuous Action Q-Learning

09/26/2019 ∙ by Moonkyung Ryu, et al. ∙ Google 29

Value-based reinforcement learning (RL) methods like Q-learning have shown success in a variety of domains. One challenge in applying Q-learning to continuous-action RL problems, however, is the continuous action maximization (max-Q) required for optimal Bellman backup. In this work, we develop CAQL, a (class of) algorithm(s) for continuous-action Q-learning that can use several plug-and-play optimizers for the max-Q problem. Leveraging recent optimization results for deep neural networks, we show that max-Q can be solved optimally using mixed-integer programming (MIP). When the Q-function representation has sufficient power, MIP-based optimization gives rise to better policies and is more robust than approximate methods (e.g., gradient ascent, cross-entropy search). We further develop several techniques to accelerate inference in CAQL, which despite their approximate nature, perform well. We compare CAQL with state-of-the-art RL algorithms on benchmark continuous-control problems that have different degrees of action constraints and show that CAQL outperforms policy-based methods in heavily constrained environments, often dramatically.

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