Criticality-Based Varying Step-Number Algorithm for Reinforcement Learning

Yitzhak Spielberg, Amos Azaria

In the context of reinforcement learning we introduce the concept of criticality of a state, which indicates the extent to which the choice of action in that particular state influences the expected return. That is, a state in which the choice of action is more likely to influence the final outcome is considered as more critical than a state in which it is less likely to influence the final outcome. We formulate a criticality-based varying step number algorithm (CVS) - a flexible step number algorithm that utilizes the criticality function provided by a human, or learned directly from the environment. We test it in three different domains including the Atari Pong environment, Road-Tree environment, and Shooter environment. We demonstrate that CVS is able to outperform popular learning algorithms such as Deep Q-Learning and Monte Carlo.

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