Revisiting Fundamentals of Experience Replay

William Fedus, Prajit Ramachandran, Rishabh Agarwal, Yoshua Bengio, Hugo Larochelle, Mark Rowland, Will Dabney
Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 119:3061-3071, 2020.

Abstract

Experience replay is central to off-policy algorithms in deep reinforcement learning (RL), but there remain significant gaps in our understanding. We therefore present a systematic and extensive analysis of experience replay in Q-learning methods, focusing on two fundamental properties: the replay capacity and the ratio of learning updates to experience collected (replay ratio). Our additive and ablative studies upend conventional wisdom around experience replay {—} greater capacity is found to substantially increase the performance of certain algorithms, while leaving others unaffected. Counterintuitively we show that theoretically ungrounded, uncorrected n-step returns are uniquely beneficial while other techniques confer limited benefit for sifting through larger memory. Separately, by directly controlling the replay ratio we contextualize previous observations in the literature and empirically measure its importance across a variety of deep RL algorithms. Finally, we conclude by testing a set of hypotheses on the nature of these performance benefits.

Cite this Paper


BibTeX
@InProceedings{pmlr-v119-fedus20a, title = {Revisiting Fundamentals of Experience Replay}, author = {Fedus, William and Ramachandran, Prajit and Agarwal, Rishabh and Bengio, Yoshua and Larochelle, Hugo and Rowland, Mark and Dabney, Will}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning}, pages = {3061--3071}, year = {2020}, editor = {Hal Daumé III and Aarti Singh}, volume = {119}, series = {Proceedings of Machine Learning Research}, month = {13--18 Jul}, publisher = {PMLR}, pdf = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/fedus20a/fedus20a.pdf}, url = { http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/fedus20a.html }, abstract = {Experience replay is central to off-policy algorithms in deep reinforcement learning (RL), but there remain significant gaps in our understanding. We therefore present a systematic and extensive analysis of experience replay in Q-learning methods, focusing on two fundamental properties: the replay capacity and the ratio of learning updates to experience collected (replay ratio). Our additive and ablative studies upend conventional wisdom around experience replay {—} greater capacity is found to substantially increase the performance of certain algorithms, while leaving others unaffected. Counterintuitively we show that theoretically ungrounded, uncorrected n-step returns are uniquely beneficial while other techniques confer limited benefit for sifting through larger memory. Separately, by directly controlling the replay ratio we contextualize previous observations in the literature and empirically measure its importance across a variety of deep RL algorithms. Finally, we conclude by testing a set of hypotheses on the nature of these performance benefits.} }
Endnote
%0 Conference Paper %T Revisiting Fundamentals of Experience Replay %A William Fedus %A Prajit Ramachandran %A Rishabh Agarwal %A Yoshua Bengio %A Hugo Larochelle %A Mark Rowland %A Will Dabney %B Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning %C Proceedings of Machine Learning Research %D 2020 %E Hal Daumé III %E Aarti Singh %F pmlr-v119-fedus20a %I PMLR %P 3061--3071 %U http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/fedus20a.html %V 119 %X Experience replay is central to off-policy algorithms in deep reinforcement learning (RL), but there remain significant gaps in our understanding. We therefore present a systematic and extensive analysis of experience replay in Q-learning methods, focusing on two fundamental properties: the replay capacity and the ratio of learning updates to experience collected (replay ratio). Our additive and ablative studies upend conventional wisdom around experience replay {—} greater capacity is found to substantially increase the performance of certain algorithms, while leaving others unaffected. Counterintuitively we show that theoretically ungrounded, uncorrected n-step returns are uniquely beneficial while other techniques confer limited benefit for sifting through larger memory. Separately, by directly controlling the replay ratio we contextualize previous observations in the literature and empirically measure its importance across a variety of deep RL algorithms. Finally, we conclude by testing a set of hypotheses on the nature of these performance benefits.
APA
Fedus, W., Ramachandran, P., Agarwal, R., Bengio, Y., Larochelle, H., Rowland, M. & Dabney, W.. (2020). Revisiting Fundamentals of Experience Replay. Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, in Proceedings of Machine Learning Research 119:3061-3071 Available from http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/fedus20a.html .

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