BBQ-Networks: Efficient Exploration in Deep Reinforcement Learning for Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems

We present a new algorithm that significantly improves the efficiency of exploration for deep Q-learning agents in dialogue systems. Our agents explore via Thompson sampling, drawing Monte Carlo samples from a Bayes-by-Backprop neural network. Our algorithm learns much faster than common exploration strategies such as $\epsilon$-greedy, Boltzmann, bootstrapping, and intrinsic-reward-based ones. Additionally, we show that spiking the replay buffer with experiences from just a few successful episodes can make Q-learning feasible when it might otherwise fail.

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