Learning Implicit Credit Assignment for Cooperative Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Meng Zhou, Ziyu Liu, Pengwei Sui, Yixuan Li, Yuk Ying Chung


We present a multi-agent actor-critic method that aims to implicitly address the credit assignment problem under fully cooperative settings. Our key motivation is that credit assignment among agents may not require an explicit formulation as long as (1) the policy gradients derived from a centralized critic carry sufficient information for the decentralized agents to maximize their joint action value through optimal cooperation and (2) a sustained level of exploration is enforced throughout training. Under the centralized training with decentralized execution (CTDE) paradigm, we achieve the former by formulating the centralized critic as a hypernetwork such that a latent state representation is integrated into the policy gradients through its multiplicative association with the stochastic policies; to achieve the latter, we derive a simple technique called adaptive entropy regularization where magnitudes of the entropy gradients are dynamically rescaled based on the current policy stochasticity to encourage consistent levels of exploration. Our algorithm, referred to as LICA, is evaluated on several benchmarks including the multi-agent particle environments and a set of challenging StarCraft II micromanagement tasks, and we show that LICA significantly outperforms previous methods.