This paper presents a comprehensive literature review on applications of deep reinforcement learning in communications and networking. Modern networks, e.g., Internet of Things (IoT) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) networks, become more decentralized and autonomous. In such networks, network entities need to make decisions locally to maximize the network performance under uncertainty of network environment. Reinforcement learning has been efficiently used to enable the network entities to obtain the optimal policy including, e.g., decisions or actions, given their states when the state and action spaces are small. However, in complex and large-scale networks, the state and action spaces are usually large, and the reinforcement learning may not be able to find the optimal policy in reasonable time. Therefore, deep reinforcement learning, a combination of reinforcement learning with deep learning, has been developed to overcome the shortcomings. In this survey, we first give a tutorial of deep reinforcement learning from fundamental concepts to advanced models. Then, we review deep reinforcement learning approaches proposed to address emerging issues in communications and networking. The issues include dynamic network access, data rate control, wireless caching, data offloading, network security, and connectivity preservation which are all important to next generation networks such as 5G and beyond. Furthermore, we present applications of deep reinforcement learning for traffic routing, resource sharing, and data collection. Finally, we highlight important challenges, open issues, and future research directions of applying deep reinforcement learning.
* 37 pages, 13 figures, 6 tables, 174 reference papers
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