Read and Reap the Rewards: Learning to Play Atari with the Help of Instruction Manuals

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Yue Wu, Yewen Fan, Paul Pu Liang, Amos Azaria, Yuanzhi Li, Tom M. Mitchell


High sample complexity has long been a challenge for RL. On the other hand, humans learn to perform tasks not only from interaction or demonstrations, but also by reading unstructured text documents, e.g., instruction manuals. Instruction manuals and wiki pages are among the most abundant data that could inform agents of valuable features and policies or task-specific environmental dynamics and reward structures. Therefore, we hypothesize that the ability to utilize human-written instruction manuals to assist learning policies for specific tasks should lead to a more efficient and better-performing agent. We propose the Read and Reward framework. Read and Reward speeds up RL algorithms on Atari games by reading manuals released by the Atari game developers. Our framework consists of a QA Extraction module that extracts and summarizes relevant information from the manual and a Reasoning module that evaluates object-agent interactions based on information from the manual. An auxiliary reward is then provided to a standard A2C RL agent, when interaction is detected. Experimentally, various RL algorithms obtain significant improvement in performance and training speed when assisted by our design. Code at