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Hierarchies of Reward Machines

Daniel Furelos-Blanco · Mark Law · Anders Jonsson · Krysia Broda · Alessandra Russo

Exhibit Hall 1 #420


Reward machines (RMs) are a recent formalism for representing the reward function of a reinforcement learning task through a finite-state machine whose edges encode subgoals of the task using high-level events. The structure of RMs enables the decomposition of a task into simpler and independently solvable subtasks that help tackle long-horizon and/or sparse reward tasks. We propose a formalism for further abstracting the subtask structure by endowing an RM with the ability to call other RMs, thus composing a hierarchy of RMs (HRM). We exploit HRMs by treating each call to an RM as an independently solvable subtask using the options framework, and describe a curriculum-based method to learn HRMs from traces observed by the agent. Our experiments reveal that exploiting a handcrafted HRM leads to faster convergence than with a flat HRM, and that learning an HRM is feasible in cases where its equivalent flat representation is not.

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