On the Expressivity of Neural Networks for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Jul 12, 2020

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We compare the model-free reinforcement learning with the model-based approaches through the lens of the expressive power of neural networks for policies, Q-functions, and dynamics. We show, theoretically and empirically, that even for one-dimensional continuous state space, there are many MDPs whose optimal Q-functions and policies are much more complex than the dynamics. For these MDPs, model-based planning is a favorable algorithm, because the resulting policies can approximate the optimal policy significantly better than a neural network parameterization can, and model-free or model-based policy optimization rely on policy parameterization. Motivated by the theory, we apply a simple multi-step model-based bootstrapping planner (BOOTS) to bootstrap a weak Q-function into a stronger policy. Empirical results show that applying BOOTS on top of model-based or model-free policy optimization algorithms at the test time improves the performance on benchmark tasks.

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About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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