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Proximal Learning With Opponent-Learning Awareness
Stephen Zhao · Chris Lu · Roger Grosse · Jakob Foerster

Thu Dec 01 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Hall J #403

Learning With Opponent-Learning Awareness (LOLA) (Foerster et al. [2018a]) is a multi-agent reinforcement learning algorithm that typically learns reciprocity-based cooperation in partially competitive environments. However, LOLA often fails to learn such behaviour on more complex policy spaces parameterized by neural networks, partly because the update rule is sensitive to the policy parameterization. This problem is especially pronounced in the opponent modeling setting, where the opponent's policy is unknown and must be inferred from observations; in such settings, LOLA is ill-specified because behaviorally equivalent opponent policies can result in non-equivalent updates. To address this shortcoming, we reinterpret LOLA as approximating a proximal operator, and then derive a new algorithm, proximal LOLA (POLA), which uses the proximal formulation directly. Unlike LOLA, the POLA updates are parameterization invariant, in the sense that when the proximal objective has a unique optimum, behaviorally equivalent policies result in behaviorally equivalent updates. We then present practical approximations to the ideal POLA update, which we evaluate in several partially competitive environments with function approximation and opponent modeling. This empirically demonstrates that POLA achieves reciprocity-based cooperation more reliably than LOLA.

Author Information

Stephen Zhao (Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto)
Chris Lu (University of Oxford)
Roger Grosse (University of Toronto)
Jakob Foerster (University of Oxford)

Jakob Foerster received a CIFAR AI chair in 2019 and is starting as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and the Vector Institute in the academic year 20/21. During his PhD at the University of Oxford, he helped bring deep multi-agent reinforcement learning to the forefront of AI research and interned at Google Brain, OpenAI, and DeepMind. He has since been working as a research scientist at Facebook AI Research in California, where he will continue advancing the field up to his move to Toronto. He was the lead organizer of the first Emergent Communication (EmeCom) workshop at NeurIPS in 2017, which he has helped organize ever since.

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