Regret-Based Pruning in Extensive-Form Games

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Noam Brown, Tuomas Sandholm


Counterfactual Regret Minimization (CFR) is a leading algorithm for finding a Nash equilibrium in large zero-sum imperfect-information games. CFR is an iterative algorithm that repeatedly traverses the game tree, updating regrets at each information set.We introduce an improvement to CFR that prunes any path of play in the tree, and its descendants, that has negative regret. It revisits that sequence at the earliest subsequent CFR iteration where the regret could have become positive, had that path been explored on every iteration. The new algorithm maintains CFR's convergence guarantees while making iterations significantly faster---even if previously known pruning techniques are used in the comparison. This improvement carries over to CFR+, a recent variant of CFR. Experiments show an order of magnitude speed improvement, and the relative speed improvement increases with the size of the game.