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What Matters for On-Policy Deep Actor-Critic Methods? A Large-Scale Study

Marcin Andrychowicz
Piotr Michal Stanczyk
Manu Orsini
Sertan Girgin
Léonard Hussenot
Matthieu Geist
Olivier Pietquin
Marcin Michalski
Sylvain Gelly
ICLR (2021)


In recent years, reinforcement learning (RL) has been successfully applied to many different continuous control tasks. While RL algorithms are often conceptually simple, their state-of-the-art implementations take numerous low- and high-level design decisions that strongly affect the performance of the resulting agents. Those choices are usually not extensively discussed in the literature, leading to discrepancy between published descriptions of algorithms and their implementations. This makes it hard to attribute progress in RL and slows down overall progress [Engstrom'20]. As a step towards filling that gap, we implement >50 such ``"choices" in a unified on-policy deep actor-critic framework, allowing us to investigate their impact in a large-scale empirical study. We train over 250'000 agents in five continuous control environments of different complexity and provide insights and practical recommendations for the training of on-policy deep actor-critic RL agents.

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