Adaptive Batch Size for Safe Policy Gradients

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Matteo Papini, Matteo Pirotta, Marcello Restelli


Policy gradient methods are among the best Reinforcement Learning (RL) techniques to solve complex control problems. In real-world RL applications, it is common to have a good initial policy whose performance needs to be improved and it may not be acceptable to try bad policies during the learning process. Although several methods for choosing the step size exist, research paid less attention to determine the batch size, that is the number of samples used to estimate the gradient direction for each update of the policy parameters. In this paper, we propose a set of methods to jointly optimize the step and the batch sizes that guarantee (with high probability) to improve the policy performance after each update. Besides providing theoretical guarantees, we show numerical simulations to analyse the behaviour of our methods.