Learning to Constrain Policy Optimization with Virtual Trust Region

Hung Le, Thommen Karimpanal George, Majid Abdolshah, Dung Nguyen, Kien Do, Sunil Gupta, Svetha Venkatesh

We introduce a constrained optimization method for policy gradient reinforcement learning, which uses a virtual trust region to regulate each policy update. In addition to using the proximity of one single old policy as the normal trust region, we propose forming a second trust region through another virtual policy representing a wide range of past policies. We then enforce the new policy to stay closer to the virtual policy, which is beneficial if the old policy performs poorly. More importantly, we propose a mechanism to automatically build the virtual policy from a memory of past policies, providing a new capability for dynamically learning appropriate virtual trust regions during the optimization process. Our proposed method, dubbed Memory-Constrained Policy Optimization (MCPO), is examined in diverse environments, including robotic locomotion control, navigation with sparse rewards and Atari games, consistently demonstrating competitive performance against recent on-policy constrained policy gradient methods.

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