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State Entropy Maximization with Random Encoders for Efficient Exploration

Younggyo Seo · Lili Chen · Jinwoo Shin · Honglak Lee · Pieter Abbeel · Kimin Lee

[ Abstract ] [ Livestream: Visit Deep Reinforcement Learning 1 ] [ Paper ]
Tue 20 Jul 5:45 a.m. — 5:50 a.m. PDT

Recent exploration methods have proven to be a recipe for improving sample-efficiency in deep reinforcement learning (RL). However, efficient exploration in high-dimensional observation spaces still remains a challenge. This paper presents Random Encoders for Efficient Exploration (RE3), an exploration method that utilizes state entropy as an intrinsic reward. In order to estimate state entropy in environments with high-dimensional observations, we utilize a k-nearest neighbor entropy estimator in the low-dimensional representation space of a convolutional encoder. In particular, we find that the state entropy can be estimated in a stable and compute-efficient manner by utilizing a randomly initialized encoder, which is fixed throughout training. Our experiments show that RE3 significantly improves the sample-efficiency of both model-free and model-based RL methods on locomotion and navigation tasks from DeepMind Control Suite and MiniGrid benchmarks. We also show that RE3 allows learning diverse behaviors without extrinsic rewards, effectively improving sample-efficiency in downstream tasks.

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