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Policy Information Capacity: Information-Theoretic Measure for Task Complexity in Deep Reinforcement Learning
Hiroki Furuta · Tatsuya Matsushima · Tadashi Kozuno · Yutaka Matsuo · Sergey Levine · Ofir Nachum · Shixiang Gu

Tue Jul 20 07:25 PM -- 07:30 PM (PDT) @

Progress in deep reinforcement learning (RL) research is largely enabled by benchmark task environments. However, analyzing the nature of those environments is often overlooked. In particular, we still do not have agreeable ways to measure the difficulty or solvability of a task, given that each has fundamentally different actions, observations, dynamics, rewards, and can be tackled with diverse RL algorithms. In this work, we propose policy information capacity (PIC) -- the mutual information between policy parameters and episodic return -- and policy-optimal information capacity (POIC) -- between policy parameters and episodic optimality -- as two environment-agnostic, algorithm-agnostic quantitative metrics for task difficulty. Evaluating our metrics across toy environments as well as continuous control benchmark tasks from OpenAI Gym and DeepMind Control Suite, we empirically demonstrate that these information-theoretic metrics have higher correlations with normalized task solvability scores than a variety of alternatives. Lastly, we show that these metrics can also be used for fast and compute-efficient optimizations of key design parameters such as reward shaping, policy architectures, and MDP properties for better solvability by RL algorithms without ever running full RL experiments.

Author Information

Hiroki Furuta (The University of Tokyo)
Tatsuya Matsushima (The University of Tokyo)
Tadashi Kozuno (University of Alberta)
Yutaka Matsuo (University of Tokyo)
Sergey Levine (UC Berkeley)
Sergey Levine

Sergey Levine received a BS and MS in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2009, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2014. He joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley in fall 2016. His work focuses on machine learning for decision making and control, with an emphasis on deep learning and reinforcement learning algorithms. Applications of his work include autonomous robots and vehicles, as well as computer vision and graphics. His research includes developing algorithms for end-to-end training of deep neural network policies that combine perception and control, scalable algorithms for inverse reinforcement learning, deep reinforcement learning algorithms, and more.

Ofir Nachum (Google Brain)
Shixiang Gu (Google)

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