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Behaviour Suite for Reinforcement Learning (bsuite)

PyPI version pytest

radar plot


bsuite is a collection of carefully-designed experiments that investigate core capabilities of a reinforcement learning (RL) agent with two main objectives.

  1. To collect clear, informative and scalable problems that capture key issues in the design of efficient and general learning algorithms.
  2. To study agent behavior through their performance on these shared benchmarks.

This library automates evaluation and analysis of any agent on these benchmarks. It serves to facilitate reproducible, and accessible, research on the core issues in RL, and ultimately the design of superior learning algorithms.

Going forward, we hope to incorporate more excellent experiments from the research community, and commit to a periodic review of the experiments from a committee of prominent researchers.

For a more comprehensive overview, see the accompanying paper.

Technical overview

bsuite is a collection of experiments, defined in the experiments subdirectory. Each subdirectory corresponds to one experiment and contains:

  • A file defining an RL environment, which may be configurable to provide different levels of difficulty or different random seeds (for example).
  • A sequence of keyword arguments for this environment, defined in the SETTINGS variable found in the experiment's file.
  • A file defining plots used in the provided Jupyter notebook.

bsuite works by logging results from "within" each environment, when loading environment via a load_and_record* function. This means any experiment will automatically output data in the correct format for analysis using the notebook, without any constraints on the structure of agents or algorithms.

We collate all of the results and analysis in a pre-made jupyter notebook

Getting started

If you are new to bsuite you can get started in our colab tutorial. This Jupyter notebook is hosted with a free cloud server, so you can start coding right away without installing anything on your machine. After this, you can follow the instructions below to get bsuite running on your local machine.


We have tested bsuite on Python 3.6 & 3.7. To install the dependencies:

  1. Optional: We recommend using a Python virtual environment to manage your dependencies, so as not to clobber your system installation:

    python3 -m venv bsuite
    source bsuite/bin/activate
    pip install --upgrade pip setuptools
  2. Install bsuite directly from PyPI:

    pip install bsuite
  3. Optional: To also install dependencies for the baselines examples (excluding OpenAI and Dopamine examples), run:

    pip install bsuite[baselines]


Complete descriptions of each environment and their corresponding experiments are found in the analysis/results.ipynb Jupyter notebook.

These environments all have small observation sizes, allowing for reasonable performance with a small network on a CPU.

Loading an environment

Environments are specified by a bsuite_id string, for example "deep_sea/7". This string denotes the experiment and the (index of the) environment settings to use, as described in the technical overview section.

For a full description of each environment and its corresponding experiment settings, see the paper.

import bsuite

env = bsuite.load_from_id('catch/0')

The sequence of bsuite_ids required to run all experiments can be accessed programmatically via:

from bsuite import sweep


This module also contains bsuite_ids for each experiment individually via uppercase constants corresponding to the experiment name, for example:


Loading an environment with logging included

We include two implementations of automatic logging, available via:

We also include a terminal logger in logging/, exposed via bsuite.load_and_record_to_terminal.

It is easy to write your own logging mechanism, if you need to save results to a different storage system. See the CSV implementation for the simplest reference.

Interacting with an environment

Our environments implement the Python interface defined in dm_env.

More specifically, all our environments accept a discrete, zero-based integer action (or equivalently, a scalar numpy array with shape ()).

To determine the number of actions for a specific environment, use

num_actions = env.action_spec().num_values

Each environment returns observations in the form of a numpy array.

We also expose a bsuite_num_episodes property for each environment in bsuite. This allows users to run exactly the number of episodes required for bsuite's analysis, which may vary between environments used in different experiments.

Example run loop for a hypothetical agent with a step() method.

for _ in range(env.bsuite_num_episodes):
  timestep = env.reset()
  while not timestep.last():
    action = agent.step(timestep)
    timestep = env.step(action)

Using bsuite in 'OpenAI Gym' format

To use bsuite with a codebase that uses the OpenAI Gym interface, use the GymFromDMEnv class in utils/

import bsuite
from bsuite.utils import gym_wrapper

env = bsuite.load_and_record_to_csv('catch/0', results_dir='/path/to/results')
gym_env = gym_wrapper.GymFromDMEnv(env)

Note that bsuite does not include Gym in its default dependencies, so you may need to pip install it separately.

Baseline agents

We include implementations of several common agents in the [baselines/] subdirectory, along with a minimal run-loop.

See the installation section for how to include the required dependencies at install time. These dependencies are not installed by default, since bsuite does not require users to use any specific machine learning library.

Running the entire suite of experiments

Each of the agents in the baselines folder contains a run script which serves as an example which can run against a single environment or against the entire suite of experiments, by passing the --bsuite_id=SWEEP flags; this will start a pool of processes with which to run as many experiments in parallel as the host machine allows. On a 12 core machine, this will complete overnight for most agents. Alternatively, it is possible to run on Google Compute Platform using, steps of which are outlined below.

Running experiments on Google Cloud Platform does the following in order:

  1. Create an instance with specified specs (by default 64-core CPU optimized).
  2. git clones bsuite and installs it together with other dependencies.
  3. Runs the specified agent (currently limited to /baselines) on a specified environment.
  4. Copies the resulting SQLite file to /tmp/bsuite.db from the remote instance to you local machine.
  5. Shuts down the created instance.

In order to run the script, you first need to create a billing account. Then follow the instructions here to setup and initialize Cloud SDK. After completing gcloud init, you are ready to run bsuite on Google Cloud.

For this make executable and run it:

chmod +x

After the instance is created, the instance name will be printed. Then you can ssh into the instance by selecting Compute Engine -> Instances and clicking SSH. Note that this is not necessary, as the result will be copied to your local machine once it is ready. However, sshing might be convenient if you want to make local changes to agent and environments. In this case, after sshing, do


to activate the virtual environment. Then you can run agents via

python ~/bsuite/bsuite/baselines/dqn/ --bsuite_id=SWEEP

for instance.


bsuite comes with a ready-made analysis Jupyter notebook included in analysis/results.ipynb. This notebook loads and processes logged data, and produces the scores and plots for each experiment. We recommend using this notebook in conjunction with Colaboratory.

We provide an example of a such bsuite report here.

bsuite Report

You can use bsuite to generate an automated 1-page appendix, that summarizes the core capabilities of your RL algorithm. This appendix is compatible with most major ML conference formats. For example output run,

pdflatex bsuite/reports/neurips_2019/neurips_2019.tex

More examples of bsuite reports can be found in the reports/ subdirectory.


If you use bsuite in your work, please cite the accompanying paper:

    title={Behaviour Suite for Reinforcement Learning},
    author={Osband, Ian and
            Doron, Yotam and
            Hessel, Matteo and
            Aslanides, John and
            Sezener, Eren and
            Saraiva, Andre and
            McKinney, Katrina and
            Lattimore, Tor and
            {Sz}epesv{\'a}ri, Csaba and
            Singh, Satinder and
            Van Roy, Benjamin and
            Sutton, Richard and
            Silver, David and
            van Hasselt, Hado},
    booktitle={International Conference on Learning Representations},
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