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Augmenting Replay in World Models for Continual Reinforcement Learning

Luke YangLevin KuhlmannGideon Kowadlo
Jan 2024
In continual RL, the environment of a reinforcement learning (RL) agent undergoes change. A successful system should appropriately balance the conflicting requirements of retaining agent performance on already learned tasks, stability, whilst learning new tasks, plasticity. The first-in-first-out buffer is commonly used to enhance learning in such settings but requires significant memory. We explore the application of an augmentation to this buffer which alleviates the memory constraints, and use it with a world model model-based reinforcement learning algorithm, to evaluate its effectiveness in facilitating continual learning. We evaluate the effectiveness of our method in Procgen and Atari RL benchmarks and show that the distribution matching augmentation to the replay-buffer used in the context of latent world models can successfully prevent catastrophic forgetting with significantly reduced computational overhead. Yet, we also find such a solution to not be entirely infallible, and other failure modes such as the opposite -- lacking plasticity and being unable to learn a new task -- to be a potential limitation in continual learning systems.
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