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Evolving Curricula with Regret-Based Environment Design
Jack Parker-Holder · Minqi Jiang · Michael Dennis · Mikayel Samvelyan · Jakob Foerster · Edward Grefenstette · Tim Rocktäschel

Thu Jul 21 11:35 AM -- 11:40 AM (PDT) @ Room 327 - 329

Training generally-capable agents with reinforcement learning (RL) remains a significant challenge. A promising avenue for improving the robustness of RL agents is through the use of curricula. One such class of methods frames environment design as a game between a student and a teacher, using regret-based objectives to produce environment instantiations (or levels) at the frontier of the student agent's capabilities. These methods benefit from theoretical robustness guarantees at equilibrium, yet they often struggle to find effective levels in challenging design spaces in practice. By contrast, evolutionary approaches incrementally alter environment complexity, resulting in potentially open-ended learning, but often rely on domain-specific heuristics and vast amounts of computational resources. This work proposes harnessing the power of evolution in a principled, regret-based curriculum. Our approach, which we call Adversarially Compounding Complexity by Editing Levels (ACCEL), seeks to constantly produce levels at the frontier of an agent's capabilities, resulting in curricula that start simple but become increasingly complex. ACCEL maintains the theoretical benefits of prior regret-based methods, while providing significant empirical gains in a diverse set of environments. An interactive version of this paper is available at https://accelagent.github.io.

Author Information

Jack Parker-Holder (University of Oxford)
Minqi Jiang (UCL & FAIR)
Michael Dennis (UC Berkeley)
Mikayel Samvelyan (University College London)
Jakob Foerster (Oxford university)
Jakob Foerster

Jakob Foerster started as an Associate Professor at the department of engineering science at the University of Oxford in the fall of 2021. During his PhD at Oxford he helped bring deep multi-agent reinforcement learning to the forefront of AI research and interned at Google Brain, OpenAI, and DeepMind. After his PhD he worked as a research scientist at Facebook AI Research in California, where he continued doing foundational work. He was the lead organizer of the first Emergent Communication workshop at NeurIPS in 2017, which he has helped organize ever since and was awarded a prestigious CIFAR AI chair in 2019. His past work addresses how AI agents can learn to cooperate and communicate with other agents, most recently he has been developing and addressing the zero-shot coordination problem setting, a crucial step towards human-AI coordination.

Edward Grefenstette (Facebook AI Research & UCL)
Tim Rocktäschel (Facebook AI Research & University College London)

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