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Julien Perolat, Bart de Vylder, Daniel Hennes, Eugene Tarassov, Florian Strub, Vincent de Boer, Paul Muller, Jerome T. Connor, Neil Burch, Thomas Anthony, Stephen McAleer, Romuald Elie, Sarah H. Cen, Zhe Wang, Audrunas Gruslys, Aleksandra Malysheva, Mina Khan, Sherjil Ozair, Finbarr Timbers, Toby Pohlen, Tom Eccles, Mark Rowland, Marc Lanctot, Jean-Baptiste Lespiau, Bilal Piot, Shayegan Omidshafiei, Edward Lockhart, Laurent Sifre, Nathalie Beauguerlange, Remi Munos, David Silver, Satinder Singh, Demis Hassabis, Karl Tuyls

We introduce DeepNash, an autonomous agent capable of learning to play the imperfect information game Stratego from scratch, up to a human expert level. Stratego is one of the few iconic board games that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has not yet mastered. This popular game has an enormous game tree on the order of $10^{535}$ nodes, i.e., $10^{175}$ times larger than that of Go. It has the additional complexity of requiring decision-making under imperfect information, similar to Texas hold'em poker, which has a significantly smaller game tree (on the order of $10^{164}$ nodes). Decisions in Stratego are made over a large number of discrete actions with no obvious link between action and outcome. Episodes are long, with often hundreds of moves before a player wins, and situations in Stratego can not easily be broken down into manageably-sized sub-problems as in poker. For these reasons, Stratego has been a grand challenge for the field of AI for decades, and existing AI methods barely reach an amateur level of play. DeepNash uses a game-theoretic, model-free deep reinforcement learning method, without search, that learns to master Stratego via self-play. The Regularised Nash Dynamics (R-NaD) algorithm, a key component of DeepNash, converges to an approximate Nash equilibrium, instead of 'cycling' around it, by directly modifying the underlying multi-agent learning dynamics. DeepNash beats existing state-of-the-art AI methods in Stratego and achieved a yearly (2022) and all-time top-3 rank on the Gravon games platform, competing with human expert players.

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Gregory Farquhar, Kate Baumli, Zita Marinho, Angelos Filos, Matteo Hessel, Hado van Hasselt, David Silver

Learned models of the environment provide reinforcement learning (RL) agents with flexible ways of making predictions about the environment. In particular, models enable planning, i.e. using more computation to improve value functions or policies, without requiring additional environment interactions. In this work, we investigate a way of augmenting model-based RL, by additionally encouraging a learned model and value function to be jointly \emph{self-consistent}. Our approach differs from classic planning methods such as Dyna, which only update values to be consistent with the model. We propose multiple self-consistency updates, evaluate these in both tabular and function approximation settings, and find that, with appropriate choices, self-consistency helps both policy evaluation and control.

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Sebastian Flennerhag, Yannick Schroecker, Tom Zahavy, Hado van Hasselt, David Silver, Satinder Singh

Meta-learning empowers artificial intelligence to increase its efficiency by learning how to learn. Unlocking this potential involves overcoming a challenging meta-optimisation problem that often exhibits ill-conditioning, and myopic meta-objectives. We propose an algorithm that tackles these issues by letting the meta-learner teach itself. The algorithm first bootstraps a target from the meta-learner, then optimises the meta-learner by minimising the distance to that target under a chosen (pseudo-)metric. Focusing on meta-learning with gradients, we establish conditions that guarantee performance improvements and show that the improvement is related to the target distance. Thus, by controlling curvature, the distance measure can be used to ease meta-optimization, for instance by reducing ill-conditioning. Further, the bootstrapping mechanism can extend the effective meta-learning horizon without requiring backpropagation through all updates. The algorithm is versatile and easy to implement. We achieve a new state-of-the art for model-free agents on the Atari ALE benchmark, improve upon MAML in few-shot learning, and demonstrate how our approach opens up new possibilities by meta-learning efficient exploration in a Q-learning agent.

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André Barreto, Diana Borsa, Shaobo Hou, Gheorghe Comanici, Eser Aygün, Philippe Hamel, Daniel Toyama, Jonathan Hunt, Shibl Mourad, David Silver, Doina Precup

The ability to combine known skills to create new ones may be crucial in the solution of complex reinforcement learning problems that unfold over extended periods. We argue that a robust way of combining skills is to define and manipulate them in the space of pseudo-rewards (or "cumulants"). Based on this premise, we propose a framework for combining skills using the formalism of options. We show that every deterministic option can be unambiguously represented as a cumulant defined in an extended domain. Building on this insight and on previous results on transfer learning, we show how to approximate options whose cumulants are linear combinations of the cumulants of known options. This means that, once we have learned options associated with a set of cumulants, we can instantaneously synthesise options induced by any linear combination of them, without any learning involved. We describe how this framework provides a hierarchical interface to the environment whose abstract actions correspond to combinations of basic skills. We demonstrate the practical benefits of our approach in a resource management problem and a navigation task involving a quadrupedal simulated robot.

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Christopher Grimm, André Barreto, Gregory Farquhar, David Silver, Satinder Singh

One of the main challenges in model-based reinforcement learning (RL) is to decide which aspects of the environment should be modeled. The value-equivalence (VE) principle proposes a simple answer to this question: a model should capture the aspects of the environment that are relevant for value-based planning. Technically, VE distinguishes models based on a set of policies and a set of functions: a model is said to be VE to the environment if the Bellman operators it induces for the policies yield the correct result when applied to the functions. As the number of policies and functions increase, the set of VE models shrinks, eventually collapsing to a single point corresponding to a perfect model. A fundamental question underlying the VE principle is thus how to select the smallest sets of policies and functions that are sufficient for planning. In this paper we take an important step towards answering this question. We start by generalizing the concept of VE to order-$k$ counterparts defined with respect to $k$ applications of the Bellman operator. This leads to a family of VE classes that increase in size as $k \rightarrow \infty$. In the limit, all functions become value functions, and we have a special instantiation of VE which we call proper VE or simply PVE. Unlike VE, the PVE class may contain multiple models even in the limit when all value functions are used. Crucially, all these models are sufficient for planning, meaning that they will yield an optimal policy despite the fact that they may ignore many aspects of the environment. We construct a loss function for learning PVE models and argue that popular algorithms such as MuZero and Muesli can be understood as minimizing an upper bound for this loss. We leverage this connection to propose a modification to MuZero and show that it can lead to improved performance in practice.

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Thomas Hubert, Julian Schrittwieser, Ioannis Antonoglou, Mohammadamin Barekatain, Simon Schmitt, David Silver

Many important real-world problems have action spaces that are high-dimensional, continuous or both, making full enumeration of all possible actions infeasible. Instead, only small subsets of actions can be sampled for the purpose of policy evaluation and improvement. In this paper, we propose a general framework to reason in a principled way about policy evaluation and improvement over such sampled action subsets. This sample-based policy iteration framework can in principle be applied to any reinforcement learning algorithm based upon policy iteration. Concretely, we propose Sampled MuZero, an extension of the MuZero algorithm that is able to learn in domains with arbitrarily complex action spaces by planning over sampled actions. We demonstrate this approach on the classical board game of Go and on two continuous control benchmark domains: DeepMind Control Suite and Real-World RL Suite.

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Julian Schrittwieser, Thomas Hubert, Amol Mandhane, Mohammadamin Barekatain, Ioannis Antonoglou, David Silver

Learning efficiently from small amounts of data has long been the focus of model-based reinforcement learning, both for the online case when interacting with the environment and the offline case when learning from a fixed dataset. However, to date no single unified algorithm could demonstrate state-of-the-art results in both settings. In this work, we describe the Reanalyse algorithm which uses model-based policy and value improvement operators to compute new improved training targets on existing data points, allowing efficient learning for data budgets varying by several orders of magnitude. We further show that Reanalyse can also be used to learn entirely from demonstrations without any environment interactions, as in the case of offline Reinforcement Learning (offline RL). Combining Reanalyse with the MuZero algorithm, we introduce MuZero Unplugged, a single unified algorithm for any data budget, including offline RL. In contrast to previous work, our algorithm does not require any special adaptations for the off-policy or offline RL settings. MuZero Unplugged sets new state-of-the-art results in the RL Unplugged offline RL benchmark as well as in the online RL benchmark of Atari in the standard 200 million frame setting.

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Matteo Hessel, Ivo Danihelka, Fabio Viola, Arthur Guez, Simon Schmitt, Laurent Sifre, Theophane Weber, David Silver, Hado van Hasselt

We propose a novel policy update that combines regularized policy optimization with model learning as an auxiliary loss. The update (henceforth Muesli) matches MuZero's state-of-the-art performance on Atari. Notably, Muesli does so without using deep search: it acts directly with a policy network and has computation speed comparable to model-free baselines. The Atari results are complemented by extensive ablations, and by additional results on continuous control and 9x9 Go.

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Vivek Veeriah, Tom Zahavy, Matteo Hessel, Zhongwen Xu, Junhyuk Oh, Iurii Kemaev, Hado van Hasselt, David Silver, Satinder Singh

Temporal abstractions in the form of options have been shown to help reinforcement learning (RL) agents learn faster. However, despite prior work on this topic, the problem of discovering options through interaction with an environment remains a challenge. In this paper, we introduce a novel meta-gradient approach for discovering useful options in multi-task RL environments. Our approach is based on a manager-worker decomposition of the RL agent, in which a manager maximises rewards from the environment by learning a task-dependent policy over both a set of task-independent discovered-options and primitive actions. The option-reward and termination functions that define a subgoal for each option are parameterised as neural networks and trained via meta-gradients to maximise their usefulness. Empirical analysis on gridworld and DeepMind Lab tasks show that: (1) our approach can discover meaningful and diverse temporally-extended options in multi-task RL domains, (2) the discovered options are frequently used by the agent while learning to solve the training tasks, and (3) that the discovered options help a randomly initialised manager learn faster in completely new tasks.

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Christopher Grimm, André Barreto, Satinder Singh, David Silver

Learning models of the environment from data is often viewed as an essential component to building intelligent reinforcement learning (RL) agents. The common practice is to separate the learning of the model from its use, by constructing a model of the environment's dynamics that correctly predicts the observed state transitions. In this paper we argue that the limited representational resources of model-based RL agents are better used to build models that are directly useful for value-based planning. As our main contribution, we introduce the principle of value equivalence: two models are value equivalent with respect to a set of functions and policies if they yield the same Bellman updates. We propose a formulation of the model learning problem based on the value equivalence principle and analyze how the set of feasible solutions is impacted by the choice of policies and functions. Specifically, we show that, as we augment the set of policies and functions considered, the class of value equivalent models shrinks, until eventually collapsing to a single point corresponding to a model that perfectly describes the environment. In many problems, directly modelling state-to-state transitions may be both difficult and unnecessary. By leveraging the value-equivalence principle one may find simpler models without compromising performance, saving computation and memory. We illustrate the benefits of value-equivalent model learning with experiments comparing it against more traditional counterparts like maximum likelihood estimation. More generally, we argue that the principle of value equivalence underlies a number of recent empirical successes in RL, such as Value Iteration Networks, the Predictron, Value Prediction Networks, TreeQN, and MuZero, and provides a first theoretical underpinning of those results.

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