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Robust Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning via Adversarial Regularization: Theoretical Foundation and Stable Algorithms

Alexander Bukharin · Yan Li · Yue Yu · Qingru Zhang · Zhehui Chen · Simiao Zuo · Chao Zhang · Songan Zhang · Tuo Zhao

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1421
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Wed 13 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL) has shown promising results across several domains. Despite this promise, MARL policies often lack robustness and are therefore sensitive to small changes in their environment. This presents a serious concern for the real world deployment of MARL algorithms, where the testing environment may slightly differ from the training environment. In this work we show that we can gain robustness by controlling a policy’s Lipschitz constant, and under mild conditions, establish the existence of a Lipschitz and close-to-optimal policy. Motivated by these insights, we propose a new robust MARL framework, ERNIE, that promotes the Lipschitz continuity of the policies with respect to the state observations and actions by adversarial regularization. The ERNIE framework provides robustness against noisy observations, changing transition dynamics, and malicious actions of agents. However, ERNIE’s adversarial regularization may introduce some training instability. To reduce this instability, we reformulate adversarial regularization as a Stackelberg game. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework with extensive experiments in traffic light control and particle environments. In addition, we extend ERNIE to mean-field MARL with a formulation based on distributionally robust optimization that outperforms its non-robust counterpart and is of independent interest. Our code is available at

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