Guest Post (Part I): Demystifying Deep Reinforcement Learning – Nervana

It has been hailed since then as the first step towards general artificial intelligence – an AI that can survive in a variety of environments, instead of being confined to strict realms such as playing chess.

The most amazing part of this algorithm is that it learns anything at all. Just think about it – because our Q-function is initialized randomly, it initially outputs complete garbage. And we are using this garbage (the maximum Q-value of the next state) as targets for the network, only occasionally folding in a tiny reward. That sounds insane, how could it learn anything meaningful at all? The fact is, that it does.

It is often said, that artificial intelligence is something we haven’t figured out yet. Once we know how it works, it doesn’t seem intelligent any more. But deep Q-networks still continue to amaze me. Watching them figure out a new game is like observing an animal in the wild – a rewarding experience by itself.


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