FeUdal Networks for Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

Alexander Sasha Vezhnevets, Simon Osindero, Tom Schaul, Nicolas Heess, Max Jaderberg, David Silver, Koray Kavukcuoglu

Link to paper


Feudal Networks are one way of achieving Heirarchical Reinforcement Learning, which is essentially planning actions *at multiple resolutions of time *. This paper approaches it using end-to-end learning using a 2 stage architecture- a manager(lower temporal resolution) and a worker(higher resolution). The intuition is that this will help with the long-term credit assignment problem.

This paper differs from prior work that uses the options framework in that it doesn’t need explicitly designed sub-goals, they are learned automatically

The Manager sets goals in a latent space that is learnt. The Worker conditions actions on these goals. The Manager recieves only feedback (rewards) from the environment, not the worker. Training is done using something the paper proposes- transitional policy gradient.


  • A lot of restrictions or un-intuitive ideas are due to the requirement that the whole model be differentiable. An example being how goals from the Manager are forced to affect the worker(Sec 3.1).
  • The semantic meaning of the goal is literally a difference/transition that needs to be actuated, where $ cos(s_{t+c}- st, g_t(\theta)) is being minimized and c is some fixed number of steps


  • What are the big ideas and successes in Heirarchical Reinforcement Learning
  • Are the subpolicies learnt human interpretable?
  • In the Atari section, the authors compare the settings used to control credit assignment, discounts and BPTT length between the FuN and LSTM. Why are FuNs given longer BPTT unroll length(400) than LSTM(100)? That doesn’t sound like a fair comparison


  • Read more about the Options framework. Both the regular and deep versions
  • The authors perform a test where a goal is fixed for a whole episode and the subpolicy is played out. The goals/subgoals by themselves are uninterpretable

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