Google Research

Deep Q-learning from Demonstrations

  • Todd Hester
  • Matej Vecerik
  • Olivier Pietquin
  • Marc Lanctot
  • Tom Schaul
  • Bilal Piot
  • Dan Horgan
  • John Quan
  • Andrew Sendonaris
  • Ian Osband
  • Gabriel Dulac-Arnold
  • John Agapiou
  • Joel Z Leibo
  • Audrunas Gruslys
Annual Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), New Orleans (USA) (2018)


Deep reinforcement learning (RL) has achieved several high profile successes in difficult decision-making problems. However, these algorithms typically require a huge amount of data before they reach reasonable performance. In fact, their performance during learning can be extremely poor. This may be acceptable for a simulator, but it severely limits the appli- cability of deep RL to many real-world tasks, where the agent must learn in the real environment. In this paper we study a setting where the agent may access data from previous con- trol of the system. We present an algorithm, Deep Q-learning from Demonstrations (DQfD), that leverages small sets of demonstration data to massively accelerate the learning pro- cess even from relatively small amounts of demonstration data and is able to automatically assess the necessary ratio of demonstration data while learning thanks to a prioritized replay mechanism. DQfD works by combining temporal dif- ference updates with supervised classification of the demon- strator’s actions. We show that DQfD has better initial per- formance than Prioritized Dueling Double Deep Q-Networks (PDD DQN) as it starts with better scores on the first million steps on 41 of 42 games and on average it takes PDD DQN 83 million steps to catch up to DQfD’s performance. DQfD learns to out-perform the best demonstration given in 14 of 42 games. In addition, DQfD leverages human demonstra- tions to achieve state-of-the-art results for 11 games. Finally, we show that DQfD performs better than three related algo- rithms for incorporating demonstration data into DQN.

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