Addressing Function Approximation Error in Actor-Critic Methods

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Scott Fujimoto, Herke Hoof, David Meger ;
Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 80:1587-1596, 2018.

Abstract

In value-based reinforcement learning methods such as deep Q-learning, function approximation errors are known to lead to overestimated value estimates and suboptimal policies. We show that this problem persists in an actor-critic setting and propose novel mechanisms to minimize its effects on both the actor and the critic. Our algorithm builds on Double Q-learning, by taking the minimum value between a pair of critics to limit overestimation. We draw the connection between target networks and overestimation bias, and suggest delaying policy updates to reduce per-update error and further improve performance. We evaluate our method on the suite of OpenAI gym tasks, outperforming the state of the art in every environment tested.

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