Efficient Scheduling of Data Augmentation for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Byungchan Ko, Jungseul Ok


In deep reinforcement learning (RL), data augmentation is widely considered as a tool to induce a set of useful priors about semantic consistency and improve sample efficiency and generalization performance. However, even when the prior is useful for generalization, distilling it to RL agent often interferes with RL training and degenerates sample efficiency. Meanwhile, the agent is forgetful of the prior due to the non-stationary nature of RL. These observations suggest two extreme schedules of distillation: (i) over the entire training; or (ii) only at the end. Hence, we devise a stand-alone network distillation method to inject the consistency prior at any time (even after RL), and a simple yet efficient framework to automatically schedule the distillation. Specifically, the proposed framework first focuses on mastering train environments regardless of generalization by adaptively deciding which {\it or no} augmentation to be used for the training. After this, we add the distillation to extract the remaining benefits for generalization from all the augmentations, which requires no additional new samples. In our experiments, we demonstrate the utility of the proposed framework, in particular, that considers postponing the augmentation to the end of RL training.