Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 139:4369-4379, 2021.
The standard problem setting in Dec-POMDPs is self-play, where the goal is to find a set of policies that play optimally together. Policies learned through self-play may adopt arbitrary conventions and implicitly rely on multi-step reasoning based on fragile assumptions about other agents’ actions and thus fail when paired with humans or independently trained agents at test time. To address this, we present off-belief learning (OBL). At each timestep OBL agents follow a policy $\pi_1$ that is optimized assuming past actions were taken by a given, fixed policy ($\pi_0$), but assuming that future actions will be taken by $\pi_1$. When $\pi_0$ is uniform random, OBL converges to an optimal policy that does not rely on inferences based on other agents’ behavior (an optimal grounded policy). OBL can be iterated in a hierarchy, where the optimal policy from one level becomes the input to the next, thereby introducing multi-level cognitive reasoning in a controlled manner. Unlike existing approaches, which may converge to any equilibrium policy, OBL converges to a unique policy, making it suitable for zero-shot coordination (ZSC). OBL can be scaled to high-dimensional settings with a fictitious transition mechanism and shows strong performance in both a toy-setting and the benchmark human-AI & ZSC problem Hanabi.