skip to main content

Title: Context-Aware Bayesian Network Actor-Critic Methods for Cooperative Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning
Executing actions in a correlated manner is a common strategy for human coordination that often leads to better cooperation, which is also potentially beneficial for cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL). However, the recent success of MARL relies heavily on the convenient paradigm of purely decentralized execution, where there is no action correlation among agents for scalability considerations. In this work, we introduce a Bayesian network to inaugurate correlations between agents’ action selections in their joint policy. Theoretically, we establish a theoretical justification for why action dependencies are beneficial by deriving the multi-agent policy gradient formula under such a Bayesian network joint policy and proving its global convergence to Nash equilibria under tabular softmax policy parameterization in cooperative Markov games. Further, by equipping existing MARL algorithms with a recent method of differentiable directed acyclic graphs (DAGs), we develop practical algorithms to learn the context-aware Bayesian network policies in scenarios with partial observability and various difficulty. We also dynamically decrease the sparsity of the learned DAG throughout the training process, which leads to weakly or even purely independent policies for decentralized execution. Empirical results on a range of MARL benchmarks show the benefits of our approach.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Andreas Krause, Emma Brunskill
Publisher / Repository:
Proceedings of Machine Learning Research
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Various methods for Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL) have been developed with the assumption that agents’ policies are based on accurate state information. However, policies learned through Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) are susceptible to adversarial state perturbation attacks. In this work, we propose a State-Adversarial Markov Game (SAMG) and make the first attempt to investigate different solution concepts of MARL under state uncertainties. Our analysis shows that the commonly used solution concepts of optimal agent policy and robust Nash equilibrium do not always exist in SAMGs. To circumvent this difficulty, we consider a new solution concept called robust agent policy, where agents aim to maximize the worst-case expected state value. We prove the existence of robust agent policy for finite state and finite action SAMGs. Additionally, we propose a Robust Multi-Agent Adversarial Actor-Critic (RMA3C) algorithm to learn robust policies for MARL agents under state uncertainties. Our experiments demonstrate that our algorithm outperforms existing methods when faced with state perturbations and greatly improves the robustness of MARL policies. Our code is public on 
    more » « less
  2. Synchronizing decisions across multiple agents in realistic settings is problematic since it requires agents to wait for other agents to terminate and communicate about termination reliably. Ideally, agents should learn and execute asynchronously instead. Such asynchronous methods also allow temporally extended actions that can take different amounts of time based on the situation and action executed. Unfortunately, current policy gradient methods are not applicable in asynchronous settings, as they assume that agents synchronously reason about action selection at every time step. To allow asynchronous learning and decision-making, we formulate a set of asynchronous multi-agent actor-critic methods that allow agents to directly optimize asynchronous policies in three standard training paradigms: decentralized learning, centralized learning, and centralized training for decentralized execution. Empirical results (in simulation and hardware) in a variety of realistic domains demonstrate the superiority of our approaches in large multi-agent problems and validate the effectiveness of our algorithms for learning high-quality and asynchronous solutions. 
    more » « less
  3. Learning safe solutions is an important but challenging problem in multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL). Shielded reinforcement learning is one approach for preventing agents from choosing unsafe actions. Current shielded reinforcement learning methods for MARL make strong assumptions about communication and full observability. In this work, we extend the formalization of the shielded reinforcement learning problem to a decentralized multi-agent setting. We then present an algorithm for decomposition of a centralized shield, allowing shields to be used in such decentralized, communication-free environments. Our results show that agents equipped with decentralized shields perform comparably to agents with centralized shields in several tasks, allowing shielding to be used in environments with decentralized training and execution for the first time. 
    more » « less
  4. Information sharing among agents to jointly solve problems is challenging for multi-agent reinforcement learning algorithms (MARL) in smart environments. In this paper, we present a novel information sharing approach for MARL, which introduces a Team Information Matrix (TIM) that integrates scenario-independent spatial and environmental information combined with the agent's local observations, augmenting both individual agent's performance and global awareness during the MARL learning. To evaluate this approach, we conducted experiments on three multi-agent scenarios of varying difficulty levels implemented in Unity ML-Agents Toolkit. Experimental results show that the agents utilizing our TIM-Shared variation outperformed those using decentralized MARL and achieved comparable performance to agents employing centralized MARL. 
    more » « less
  5. Due to information asymmetry, finding optimal policies for Decentralized Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (Dec-POMDPs) is hard with the complexity growing doubly exponentially in the horizon length. The challenge increases greatly in the multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) setting where the transition probabilities, observation kernel, and reward function are unknown. Here, we develop a general compression framework with approximate common and private state representations, based on which decentralized policies can be constructed. We derive the optimality gap of executing dynamic programming (DP) with the approximate states in terms of the approximation error parameters and the remaining time steps. When the compression is exact (no error), the resulting DP is equivalent to the one in existing work. Our general framework generalizes a number of methods proposed in the literature. The results shed light on designing practically useful deep-MARL network structures under the "centralized learning distributed execution" scheme. 
    more » « less