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Evolving Rewards to Automate Reinforcement Learning

Anthony Francis
Dar Mehta
6th ICML Workshop on Automated Machine Learning (2019)


Many continuous control tasks have easily formulated objectives, yet using them directly as a reward in reinforcement learning (RL) leads to suboptimal policies. Therefore, many classical control tasks guide RL training using complex rewards, which require tedious hand-tuning. We automate the reward search with AutoRL, an evolutionary layer over standard RL that treats reward tuning as hyperparameter optimization and trains a population of RL agents to find a reward that maximizes the task objective. AutoRL, evaluated on four Mujoco continuous control tasks over two RL algorithms, shows improvements over baselines, with the the biggest uplift for more complex tasks. The video can be found at: https://youtu.be/svdaOFfQyC8.