Policy Optimization for Continuous Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


HANYANG ZHAO, Wenpin Tang, David Yao


We study reinforcement learning (RL) in the setting of continuous time and space, for an infinite horizon with a discounted objective and the underlying dynamics driven by a stochastic differential equation. Built upon recent advances in the continuous approach to RL, we develop a notion of occupation time (specifically for a discounted objective), and show how it can be effectively used to derive performance difference and local approximation formulas. We further extend these results to illustrate their applications in the PG (policy gradient) and TRPO/PPO (trust region policy optimization/ proximal policy optimization) methods, which have been familiar and powerful tools in the discrete RL setting but under-developed in continuous RL. Through numerical experiments, we demonstrate the effectiveness and advantages of our approach.