On Local Rewards and the Scalability of Distributed Reinforcement Learning

We consider the scaling of the number of examples necessary to achieve good performance in distributed, cooperative, multi-agent reinforcement learning, as a function of the the number of agents n. We prove a worstcase lower bound showing that algorithms that rely solely on a global reward signal to learn policies confront a fundamental limit: They require a number of real-world examples that scales roughly linearly in the number of agents. For settings of interest with a very large number of agents, this is impractical. We demonstrate, however, that there is a class of algorithms that, by taking advantage of local reward signals in large distributed Markov Decision Processes, are able to ensure good performance with a number of samples that scales as O(log n). This makes them applicable even in settings with a very large number of agents n. Authors: J. Andrew Bagnell, Andrew Y. Ng (2006)
AUTHORED BY
J. Andrew Bagnell
Andrew Y. Ng

Abstract

We consider the scaling of the number of examples necessary to achieve good performance in distributed, cooperative, multi-agent reinforcement learning, as a function of the the number of agents n. We prove a worstcase lower bound showing that algorithms that rely solely on a global reward signal to learn policies confront a fundamental limit: They require a number of real-world examples that scales roughly linearly in the number of agents. For settings of interest with a very large number of agents, this is impractical. We demonstrate, however, that there is a class of algorithms that, by taking advantage of local reward signals in large distributed Markov Decision Processes, are able to ensure good performance with a number of samples that scales as O(log n). This makes them applicable even in settings with a very large number of agents n.

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