A Self-Tuning Actor-Critic Algorithm

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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


Reinforcement learning algorithms are highly sensitive to the choice of hyperparameters, typically requiring significant manual effort to identify hyperparameters that perform well on a new domain. In this paper, we take a step towards addressing this issue by using metagradients to automatically adapt hyperparameters online by meta-gradient descent (Xu et al., 2018). We apply our algorithm, Self-Tuning Actor-Critic (STAC), to self-tune all the differentiable hyperparameters of an actor-critic loss function, to discover auxiliary tasks, and to improve off-policy learning using a novel leaky V-trace operator. STAC is simple to use, sample efficient and does not require a significant increase in compute. Ablative studies show that the overall performance of STAC improved as we adapt more hyperparameters. When applied to the Arcade Learning Environment (Bellemare et al. 2012), STAC improved the median human normalized score in 200M steps from 243% to 364%. When applied to the DM Control suite (Tassa et al., 2018), STAC improved the mean score in 30M steps from 217 to 389 when learning with features, from 108 to 202 when learning from pixels, and from 195 to 295 in the Real-World Reinforcement Learning Challenge (Dulac-Arnold et al., 2020).