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Multiagent Learning in the Presence of Limited Agents

Date and Time
Monday, March 31, 2003 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
Michael Bowling, from Carnegie Mellon University
Robert Schapire
Learning to act in a multiagent environment is a challenging problem. Optimal behavior for one agent depends upon the behavior of the other agents, which may be learning as well. Multiagent environments are therefore non-stationary, violating the traditional assumption underlying single-agent learning. In addition, agents in complex tasks may have limitations, such as unintended physical constraints or designer-imposed approximations of the task that make learning tractable. Limitations prevent agents from acting optimally, which complicates the already challenging problem. A learning agent must effectively compensate for its own limitations while exploiting the limitations of the other agents. My thesis research focuses on these two challenges. The novel contributions of my thesis include (1) the WoLF (Win or Learn Fast) variable learning rate as a new principle that enables convergence to optimal responses in multiagent learning; (2) an analysis of the existence of Nash equilibria when agents have limitations; and (3) GraWoLF as a scalable multiagent learning algorithm.

In this talk I focus on the contributions of the WoLF principle and the GraWoLF algorithm. I show that the WoLF variable learning rate causes learning to converge to optimal responses in settings of simultaneous learning. I demonstrate this converging effect both theoretically in a subclass of single-state games and empirically in a variety of multiple-state domains. I then describe GraWoLF, a combination of policy gradient techniques and the WoLF principle. I show compelling results of applying this algorithm to a card game with an intractably large state space as well as an adversarial robot task. These results demonstrate that WoLF-based algorithms can effectively learn in the presence of other learning agents, and do so even in complex tasks with limited agents.

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