Scaling Laws for a Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning Model

September, 2022


The recent observation of neural power-law scaling relations has made a significant impact in the field of deep learning. A substantial amount of attention has been dedicated as a consequence to the description of scaling laws, although mostly for supervised learning and only to a reduced extent for reinforcement learning frameworks. In this paper we present an extensive study of performance scaling for a cornerstone reinforcement learning algorithm, AlphaZero. On the basis of a relationship between Elo rating, playing strength and power-law scaling, we train AlphaZero agents on the games Connect Four and Pentago and analyze their performance. We find that player strength scales as a power law in neural network parameter count when not bottlenecked by available compute, and as a power of compute when training optimally sized agents. We observe nearly identical scaling exponents for both games. Combining the two observed scaling laws we obtain a power law relating optimal size to compute similar to the ones observed for language models. We find that the predicted scaling of optimal neural network size fits our data for both games. This scaling law implies that previously published state-of-the-art game-playing models are significantly smaller than their optimal size, given the respective compute budgets. We also show that large AlphaZero models are more sample efficient, performing better than smaller models with the same amount of training data.

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