What is the relation between multi-agent learning and reinforcement learning?

Is one a sub-field of the other? For instance, would it make sense to state that your research interest are multi-agent learning and reinforcement learning, or would that be weird as one includes most of the topics of the other?


1 Answer 1


I think there is an intersection. There are problems that are in reinforcement learning and in learning in multi-agent systems. There are problems in reinforcement learning, but not exactly in multi-agent systems. And there is learning in multi-agent systems that is not through reinforcement learning. For sort you can say: multi-agent reinforcement learning. I recommend take a look at these references:

Bu, Lucian, Robert Babu, and Bart De Schutter. "A comprehensive survey of multiagent reinforcement learning." IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C (Applications and Reviews) 38.2 (2008): 156-172.

Busoniu, Lucian, Robert Babuska, and Bart De Schutter. "Multi-agent reinforcement learning: A survey." 2006 9th International Conference on Control, Automation, Robotics and Vision. IEEE, 2006.

  • $\begingroup$ If you are a little bit familiar with RL, it's clear that there are RL algorithms that are not directly (or immediately) applicable to multi-agent systems, so there is no need to explain further that case. However, I think this answer would improve considerably if you can provide an example of a MAS that doesn't use RL and an example that uses RL. It would also be interesting to talk about hierarchical reinforcement learning (i.e. is HRL a multi-agent system?). $\endgroup$
    – nbro
    May 23, 2020 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your answer. The comment from @nbro is also very helpful and I agree. $\endgroup$
    – MMM
    May 23, 2020 at 20:14

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