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Boosting the actor with dual critic

Albert Shaw
Niao He
Lihong Li
Le Song
ICLR 2018


This paper proposes a new actor-critic-style algorithm called Dual Actor-Critic or Dual-AC. It is derived in a principled way from the Lagrangian dual form of the Bellman optimality equation, which can be viewed as a two-player game between the actor and a critic-like function, which is named as dual critic. Compared to its actor-critic relatives, Dual-AC has the desired property that the actor and dual critic are updated cooperatively to optimize the same objective function, providing a more transparent way for learning the critic that is directly related to the objective function of the actor. We then provide a concrete algorithm that can effectively solve the minimax optimization problem, using techniques of multistep bootstrapping, path regularization, and stochastic dual ascent algorithm. We demonstrate that the proposed algorithm achieves state-of-the-art performance across several benchmarks.

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