Constrained Cross-Entropy Method for Safe Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Min Wen, Ufuk Topcu


We study a safe reinforcement learning problem in which the constraints are defined as the expected cost over finite-length trajectories. We propose a constrained cross-entropy-based method to solve this problem. The method explicitly tracks its performance with respect to constraint satisfaction and thus is well-suited for safety-critical applications. We show that the asymptotic behavior of the proposed algorithm can be almost-surely described by that of an ordinary differential equation. Then we give sufficient conditions on the properties of this differential equation to guarantee the convergence of the proposed algorithm. At last, we show with simulation experiments that the proposed algorithm can effectively learn feasible policies without assumptions on the feasibility of initial policies, even with non-Markovian objective functions and constraint functions.