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Taylor Expansion of Discount Factors
Yunhao Tang · Mark Rowland · Remi Munos · Michal Valko

Tue Jul 20 07:30 PM -- 07:35 PM (PDT) @

In practical reinforcement learning (RL), the discount factor used for estimating value functions often differs from that used for defining the evaluation objective. In this work, we study the effect that this discrepancy of discount factors has during learning, and discover a family of objectives that interpolate value functions of two distinct discount factors. Our analysis suggests new ways for estimating value functions and performing policy optimization updates, which demonstrate empirical performance gains. This framework also leads to new insights on commonly-used deep RL heuristic modifications to policy optimization algorithms.

Author Information

Yunhao Tang (Columbia University)
Mark Rowland (DeepMind)
Remi Munos (DeepMind)
Michal Valko (DeepMind / Inria / ENS Paris-Saclay)
Michal Valko

Michal is a machine learning scientist in DeepMind Paris, tenured researcher at Inria, and the lecturer of the master course Graphs in Machine Learning at l'ENS Paris-Saclay. Michal is primarily interested in designing algorithms that would require as little human supervision as possible. This means 1) reducing the “intelligence” that humans need to input into the system and 2) minimizing the data that humans need to spend inspecting, classifying, or “tuning” the algorithms. That is why he is working on methods and settings that are able to deal with minimal feedback, such as deep reinforcement learning, bandit algorithms, or self-supervised learning. Michal is actively working on represenation learning and building worlds models. He is also working on deep (reinforcement) learning algorithm that have some theoretical underpinning. He has also worked on sequential algorithms with structured decisions where exploiting the structure leads to provably faster learning. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Pittsburgh under the supervision of Miloš Hauskrecht and after was a postdoc of Rémi Munos before taking a permanent position at Inria in 2012.

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