Exploration via Epistemic Value Estimation

How to efficiently explore in reinforcement learning is an open problem. Many exploration algorithms employ the epistemic uncertainty of their own value predictions -- for instance to compute an exploration bonus or upper confidence bound. Unfortunately the required uncertainty is difficult to estimate in general with function approximation.

We propose epistemic value estimation (EVE): a recipe that is compatible with sequential decision making and with neural network function approximators. It equips agents with a tractable posterior over all their parameters from which epistemic value uncertainty can be computed efficiently.

We use the recipe to derive an epistemic Q-Learning agent and observe competitive performance on a series of benchmarks. Experiments confirm that the EVE recipe facilitates efficient exploration in hard exploration tasks.