Questions tagged [discount-factor]

Use for questions involving discount factor(s) in reinforcement learning.

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What should the discount factor for the non-slippery version of the FrozenLake environment be?

I was working with FrozenLake 4x4 from open AI gym. In the slippery case, using a discounting factor of 1, my value iteration implementation was giving a success rate of around 75 percent. It was much ...
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Knowing the futility of discounting in continuing problems, how can we say discounting has no role in control problems with function approximation?

Sutton-Barto (Section 10.4, page 254): Based on the futility of discounting in continuing problems, how can we conclude that discounting has no role to play in control problems with function ...
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2 answers
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Why does OpenAI's PPO algorithm not follow the discounting method used in Sutton & Barto?

As discussed in this question, the policy gradient algorithms given in Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction use the gradient \begin{align*} \gamma^t \hat A_t \nabla_{\theta} \log \pi(a_t \, | \, ...
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2 votes
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How to encourage the reinforcement-learning agent to reach the goal as quickly as possible, and what's the effect of discount factor?

I am trying to use reinforcement learning to solve a task and compare its performance to humans. The task is to find a single target in a fixed number of locations. At each step, the agent will pick ...
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2 votes
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Is it better to model a Contextual Multi-Armed Bandit problem as an MDP with a non-zero discount factor than treating it as it is?

I'd like to ask if it is, generally, better to model a problem that naturally appears as a Contextual Multi-Armed Bandit like Recommender Systems as a Markov Decision Process with a non-zero discount ...
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6 votes
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If $\gamma \in (0,1)$, what is the on-policy state distribution for episodic tasks?

In Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction, section 9.2 (page 199), Sutton and Barto describe the on-policy distribution in episodic tasks, with $\gamma =1$, as being \begin{equation} \mu(s) = \frac{\...
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2 votes
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Relation between discounted MDP and stochastic shortest path problems in RL

I have been reading about discounted MDPs and Stochastic Shortest Path (SSP). I recently came to know (from a friend) that every discounted MDP can be converted to an equivalent SSP but not the other ...
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Why do we discount the state distribution?

In Reinforcement Learning, it is common to use a discount factor $\gamma$ to give less importance to future rewards when calculating the returns. I have also seen mention of discounted state ...
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For episodic tasks with an absorbing state, why can't we both have $\gamma=1$ and $T= \infty$ in the definition of the return?

For episodic tasks with an absorbing state, why can't $\gamma=1$ and $T= \infty$? In Sutton and Barto's book, they say that, for episodic tasks with absorbing states that becomes an infinite sequence, ...
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Combine DQN with the Average Reward setting

I have to deal with a non-episodic task, where there is addittionally a continuous state space and more specifically in each time step there is always a new state that has never been seen before. I ...
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How do I calculate the return given the discount factor and a sequence of rewards?

I know that $G_t = R_{t+1} + G_{t+1}$. Suppose $\gamma = 0.9$ and the reward sequence is $R_1 = 2$ followed by an infinite sequence of $7$s. What is the value of $G_0$? As it's infinite, how can we ...
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Updating action-value functions in Semi-Markov Decision Process and Reinforcement Learning

Suppose that the transition time between two states is a random variable (for example, unknown exponential distribution); and between two arrivals, there is no reward. If $\tau$ (real number not an ...
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3 votes
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What is the value of a state when there is a certain probability that agent will die after each step?

We assume infinite horizon and discount factor $\gamma = 1$. At each step, after the agent takes an action and gets its reward, there is a probability $\alpha = 0.2$, that agent will die. The assumed ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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When discounted MAB is useful?

Many of multi-armed bandit(MAB) algorithms are used when the total reward is the sum of all rewards. However, in RL, the discounted reward is mainly used. Why is the discounted reward not prevailing ...
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Does everyone still use discount rates?

In Section 10.4 of Sutton and Barto's RL book, they argue that the discount rate $\gamma$ has no effect in continuing settings. They show (at least for one objective function) that the average of the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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In online one step actor critic, why does the weights update become less significant as the episode progresses?

The Reinforcement Learning Book by Richard Sutton et al, section 13.5 shows an online actor critic algorithm. Why do the weights updates depend on the discount factor via $I$? It seems that the more ...
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Are there any discount-factors based on branching factors?

I recently came across this function: $$\sum_{t = 0}^{\infty} \gamma^t R_t.$$ It's elegant and looks to be useful in the type of deterministic, perfect-information, finite models I'm working with. ...
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5 votes
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Is the discount not needed in a deterministic environment for Reinforcement Learning?

I'm now reading a book titled as "Deep Reinforcement Learning Hands-On" and the author said the following on the chapter about AlphaGo Zero: Self-play In AlphaGo Zero, the NN is used to ...
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4 votes
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Can the optimal value of discount factor in Deep Reinforcement Learning be between 0.2 to 0.8?

I'm now reading a book titled as Hands-On Reinforcement Learning with Python, and the author explains the discount factor that is used in Reinforcement Learing to discount the future reward, with the ...
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