I am trying to create a simple Deep Q-Network with 2d convolutional layers.

I can't figure out what I am doing wrong, and the only thing I can see that doesn't seem right is when I get the model prediction for a state after the optimizer step it doesn’t seem to get closer to the target.

I am using pixels from pong in OpenAI's gym with single-channel 90x90 images, a batch size of 32, and replay memory.

As an example, if I try with a batch size of 1, and try running self(states) again right after the optimizer step the output is as follows:

current_q_values -> -0.16351485  0.29163417  0.11192469 -0.08969332  0.11081569  0.37215832
q_target ->         -0.16351485  0.5336551   0.11192469 -0.08969332  0.11081569  0.37215832
self(states) ->     -0.8427617   0.6415581   0.44988257 -0.43897176  0.8693738   0.40007943

Does this look as what would be expected for a single step?

The network with loss and optimizer:

    self.in_layer = Conv2d(channels, 32, 8)
    self.hidden_conv_1 = Conv2d(32, 64, 4)
    self.hidden_conv_2 = Conv2d(64, 128, 3)
    self.hidden_fc1 = Linear(128 * 78 * 78, 64)
    self.hidden_fc2 = Linear(64, 32)
    self.output = Linear(32, action_space)

    self.loss = torch.nn.MSELoss()
    self.optimizer = torch.optim.Adam(
        self.parameters(), lr=learning_rate) # lr is 0.001

def forward(self, state):
    in_out = fn.relu(self.in_layer(state))
    in_out = fn.relu(self.hidden_conv_1(in_out))
    in_out = fn.relu(self.hidden_conv_2(in_out))
    in_out = in_out.view(-1, 128 * 78 * 78)
    in_out = fn.relu(self.hidden_fc1(in_out))
    in_out = fn.relu(self.hidden_fc2(in_out))
    return self.output(in_out)

Then the learning block:


        sample = self.sample(self.batch_size)
        states = torch.stack([i[0] for i in sample])
        actions = torch.tensor([i[1] for i in sample], device=device)
        rewards = torch.tensor([i[2] for i in sample], dtype=torch.float32, device=device)
        next_states = torch.stack([i[3] for i in sample])
        dones = torch.tensor([i[4] for i in sample], dtype=torch.uint8, device=device)

        current_q_vals = self(states)
        next_q_vals = self(next_states)
        q_target = current_q_vals.clone()
        q_target[torch.arange(states.size()[0]), actions] = rewards + (self.gamma * next_q_vals.max(dim=1)[0]) * (~dones).float()

        loss = fn.smooth_l1_loss(current_q_vals, q_target)


3 Answers 3


In my experience, neural networks with convolutional layers take much much longer to train, so try increasing the number of iterations (time steps). After running, save the network model (I dont know how to do it in torch, but in tensorflow it was model.save("filename"+".h5") ).

Then, load this saved model file and do a test run to see if it worked. In this case, you should notice pretty easily if it learned or not).


Since you are looking at a single iteration and expect a meaningful change my guess is that you aren't training for long enough. Q-learning can take very long, for many environments it takes millions of iterations.


I found the reason it wasn't learning. The issue was this line of code:

q_target[torch.arange(states.size()[0]), actions] = rewards + (self.gamma * next_q_vals.max(dim=1)[0]) * (~dones).float()

I had been using the tilde operator before to invert uint8 tensors, but recently I had updated to the latest version of pytorch that seems to have changed how the operator works. It was changing the done values to 255.

Changing to this line fixed it:

q_target[torch.arange(states.size()[0]), actions] = rewards + (self.gamma * next_q_vals.max(dim=1)[0]) * (1 - dones)

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