Learning optimal policies in sparse rewards settings is difficult as the learning agent has little to no feedback on the quality of its actions. In these situations, a good strategy is to focus on exploration, hopefully leading to the discovery of a reward signal to improve on. A learning algorithm capable of dealing with this kind of settings has to be able to (1) explore possible agent behaviors and (2) exploit any possible discovered reward. Exploration algorithms have been proposed that require the definition of a low-dimension behavior space, in which the behavior generated by the agent's policy can be represented. The need to design a priori this space such that it is worth exploring is a major limitation of these algorithms. In this work, we introduce STAX, an algorithm designed to learn a behavior space on-the-fly and to explore it while optimizing any reward discovered. It does so by separating the exploration and learning of the behavior space from the exploitation of the reward through an alternating two-step process. In the first step, STAX builds a repertoire of diverse policies while learning a low-dimensional representation of the high-dimensional observations generated during the policies evaluation. In the exploitation step, emitters optimize the performance of the discovered rewarding solutions. Experiments conducted on three different sparse reward environments show that STAX performs comparably to existing baselines while requiring much less prior information about the task as it autonomously builds the behavior space it explores.

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