Gossip-based Actor-Learner Architectures for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Mahmoud Assran, Joshua Romoff, Nicolas Ballas, Joelle Pineau, Michael Rabbat


Multi-simulator training has contributed to the recent success of Deep Reinforcement Learning (Deep RL) by stabilizing learning and allowing for higher training throughputs. In this work, we propose Gossip-based Actor-Learner Architectures (GALA) where several actor-learners (such as A2C agents) are organized in a peer-to-peer communication topology, and exchange information through asynchronous gossip in order to take advantage of a large number of distributed simulators. We prove that GALA agents remain within an epsilon-ball of one-another during training when using loosely coupled asynchronous communication. By reducing the amount of synchronization between agents, GALA is more computationally efficient and scalable compared to A2C, its fully-synchronous counterpart. GALA also outperforms A2C, being more robust and sample efficient. We show that we can run several loosely coupled GALA agents in parallel on a single GPU and achieve significantly higher hardware utilization and frame-rates than vanilla A2C at comparable power draws.