Dynamic Bottleneck for Robust Self-Supervised Exploration

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Chenjia Bai, Lingxiao Wang, Lei Han, Animesh Garg, Jianye Hao, Peng Liu, Zhaoran Wang


Exploration methods based on pseudo-count of transitions or curiosity of dynamics have achieved promising results in solving reinforcement learning with sparse rewards. However, such methods are usually sensitive to environmental dynamics-irrelevant information, e.g., white-noise. To handle such dynamics-irrelevant information, we propose a Dynamic Bottleneck (DB) model, which attains a dynamics-relevant representation based on the information-bottleneck principle. Based on the DB model, we further propose DB-bonus, which encourages the agent to explore state-action pairs with high information gain. We establish theoretical connections between the proposed DB-bonus, the upper confidence bound (UCB) for linear case, and the visiting count for tabular case. We evaluate the proposed method on Atari suits with dynamics-irrelevant noises. Our experiments show that exploration with DB bonus outperforms several state-of-the-art exploration methods in noisy environments.