Efficient Exploration through Bayesian Deep Q-Networks

We study reinforcement learning (RL) in high dimensional episodic Markov decision processes (MDP). We consider value-based RL when the optimal Q-value is a linear function of d-dimensional state-action feature representation. For instance, in deep-Q networks (DQN), the Q-value is a linear function of the feature representation layer (output layer). We propose two algorithms, one based on optimism, LINUCB, and another based on posterior sampling, LINPSRL. We guarantee frequentist and Bayesian regret upper bounds of O(d sqrt{T}) for these two algorithms, where T is the number of episodes. We extend these methods to deep RL and propose Bayesian deep Q-networks (BDQN), which uses an efficient Thompson sampling algorithm for high dimensional RL. We deploy the double DQN (DDQN) approach, and instead of learning the last layer of Q-network using linear regression, we use Bayesian linear regression, resulting in an approximated posterior over Q-function. This allows us to directly incorporate the uncertainty over the Q-function and deploy Thompson sampling on the learned posterior distribution resulting in efficient exploration/exploitation trade-off. We empirically study the behavior of BDQN on a wide range of Atari games. Since BDQN carries out more efficient exploration and exploitation, it is able to reach higher return substantially faster compared to DDQN.

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