In this monograph, I introduce the basic concepts of Online Learning through a modern view of Online Convex Optimization. Here, online learning refers to the framework of regret minimization under worst-case assumptions. I present first-order and second-order algorithms for online learning with convex losses, in Euclidean and non-Euclidean settings. All the algorithms are clearly presented as instantiation of Online Mirror Descent or Follow-The-Regularized-Leader and their variants. Particular attention is given to the issue of tuning the parameters of the algorithms and learning in unbounded domains, through adaptive and parameter-free online learning algorithms. Non-convex losses are dealt through convex surrogate losses and through randomization. The bandit setting is also briefly discussed, touching on the problem of adversarial and stochastic multi-armed bandits. These notes do not require prior knowledge of convex analysis and all the required mathematical tools are rigorously explained. Moreover, all the proofs have been carefully chosen to be as simple and as short as possible.

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Reinforcement learning (RL) is a popular paradigm for addressing sequential decision tasks in which the agent has only limited environmental feedback. Despite many advances over the past three decades, learning in many domains still requires a large amount of interaction with the environment, which can be prohibitively expensive in realistic scenarios. To address this problem, transfer learning has been applied to reinforcement learning such that experience gained in one task can be leveraged when starting to learn the next, harder task. More recently, several lines of research have explored how tasks, or data samples themselves, can be sequenced into a curriculum for the purpose of learning a problem that may otherwise be too difficult to learn from scratch. In this article, we present a framework for curriculum learning (CL) in reinforcement learning, and use it to survey and classify existing CL methods in terms of their assumptions, capabilities, and goals. Finally, we use our framework to find open problems and suggest directions for future RL curriculum learning research.

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Continual learning aims to improve the ability of modern learning systems to deal with non-stationary distributions, typically by attempting to learn a series of tasks sequentially. Prior art in the field has largely considered supervised or reinforcement learning tasks, and often assumes full knowledge of task labels and boundaries. In this work, we propose an approach (CURL) to tackle a more general problem that we will refer to as unsupervised continual learning. The focus is on learning representations without any knowledge about task identity, and we explore scenarios when there are abrupt changes between tasks, smooth transitions from one task to another, or even when the data is shuffled. The proposed approach performs task inference directly within the model, is able to dynamically expand to capture new concepts over its lifetime, and incorporates additional rehearsal-based techniques to deal with catastrophic forgetting. We demonstrate the efficacy of CURL in an unsupervised learning setting with MNIST and Omniglot, where the lack of labels ensures no information is leaked about the task. Further, we demonstrate strong performance compared to prior art in an i.i.d setting, or when adapting the technique to supervised tasks such as incremental class learning.

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We aim to better understand attention over nodes in graph neural networks (GNNs) and identify factors influencing its effectiveness. We particularly focus on the ability of attention GNNs to generalize to larger, more complex or noisy graphs. Motivated by insights from the work on Graph Isomorphism Networks, we design simple graph reasoning tasks that allow us to study attention in a controlled environment. We find that under typical conditions the effect of attention is negligible or even harmful, but under certain conditions it provides an exceptional gain in performance of more than 60% in some of our classification tasks. Satisfying these conditions in practice is challenging and often requires optimal initialization or supervised training of attention. We propose an alternative recipe and train attention in a weakly-supervised fashion that approaches the performance of supervised models, and, compared to unsupervised models, improves results on several synthetic as well as real datasets. Source code and datasets are available at https://github.com/bknyaz/graph_attention_pool.

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In information retrieval (IR) and related tasks, term weighting approaches typically consider the frequency of the term in the document and in the collection in order to compute a score reflecting the importance of the term for the document. In tasks characterized by the presence of training data (such as text classification) it seems logical that the term weighting function should take into account the distribution (as estimated from training data) of the term across the classes of interest. Although `supervised term weighting' approaches that use this intuition have been described before, they have failed to show consistent improvements. In this article we analyse the possible reasons for this failure, and call consolidated assumptions into question. Following this criticism we propose a novel supervised term weighting approach that, instead of relying on any predefined formula, learns a term weighting function optimised on the training set of interest; we dub this approach \emph{Learning to Weight} (LTW). The experiments that we run on several well-known benchmarks, and using different learning methods, show that our method outperforms previous term weighting approaches in text classification.

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The world we see is ever-changing and it always changes with people, things, and the environment. Domain is referred to as the state of the world at a certain moment. A research problem is characterized as domain transfer adaptation when it needs knowledge correspondence between different moments. Conventional machine learning aims to find a model with the minimum expected risk on test data by minimizing the regularized empirical risk on the training data, which, however, supposes that the training and test data share similar joint probability distribution. Transfer adaptation learning aims to build models that can perform tasks of target domain by learning knowledge from a semantic related but distribution different source domain. It is an energetic research filed of increasing influence and importance. This paper surveys the recent advances in transfer adaptation learning methodology and potential benchmarks. Broader challenges being faced by transfer adaptation learning researchers are identified, i.e., instance re-weighting adaptation, feature adaptation, classifier adaptation, deep network adaptation, and adversarial adaptation, which are beyond the early semi-supervised and unsupervised split. The survey provides researchers a framework for better understanding and identifying the research status, challenges and future directions of the field.

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Deep reinforcement learning suggests the promise of fully automated learning of robotic control policies that directly map sensory inputs to low-level actions. However, applying deep reinforcement learning methods on real-world robots is exceptionally difficult, due both to the sample complexity and, just as importantly, the sensitivity of such methods to hyperparameters. While hyperparameter tuning can be performed in parallel in simulated domains, it is usually impractical to tune hyperparameters directly on real-world robotic platforms, especially legged platforms like quadrupedal robots that can be damaged through extensive trial-and-error learning. In this paper, we develop a stable variant of the soft actor-critic deep reinforcement learning algorithm that requires minimal hyperparameter tuning, while also requiring only a modest number of trials to learn multilayer neural network policies. This algorithm is based on the framework of maximum entropy reinforcement learning, and automatically trades off exploration against exploitation by dynamically and automatically tuning a temperature parameter that determines the stochasticity of the policy. We show that this method achieves state-of-the-art performance on four standard benchmark environments. We then demonstrate that it can be used to learn quadrupedal locomotion gaits on a real-world Minitaur robot, learning to walk from scratch directly in the real world in two hours of training.

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There is a recent large and growing interest in generative adversarial networks (GANs), which offer powerful features for generative modeling, density estimation, and energy function learning. GANs are difficult to train and evaluate but are capable of creating amazingly realistic, though synthetic, image data. Ideas stemming from GANs such as adversarial losses are creating research opportunities for other challenges such as domain adaptation. In this paper, we look at the field of GANs with emphasis on these areas of emerging research. To provide background for adversarial techniques, we survey the field of GANs, looking at the original formulation, training variants, evaluation methods, and extensions. Then we survey recent work on transfer learning, focusing on comparing different adversarial domain adaptation methods. Finally, we take a look forward to identify open research directions for GANs and domain adaptation, including some promising applications such as sensor-based human behavior modeling.

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This manuscript surveys reinforcement learning from the perspective of optimization and control with a focus on continuous control applications. It surveys the general formulation, terminology, and typical experimental implementations of reinforcement learning and reviews competing solution paradigms. In order to compare the relative merits of various techniques, this survey presents a case study of the Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) with unknown dynamics, perhaps the simplest and best studied problem in optimal control. The manuscript describes how merging techniques from learning theory and control can provide non-asymptotic characterizations of LQR performance and shows that these characterizations tend to match experimental behavior. In turn, when revisiting more complex applications, many of the observed phenomena in LQR persist. In particular, theory and experiment demonstrate the role and importance of models and the cost of generality in reinforcement learning algorithms. This survey concludes with a discussion of some of the challenges in designing learning systems that safely and reliably interact with complex and uncertain environments and how tools from reinforcement learning and controls might be combined to approach these challenges.

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Meta-learning is a powerful tool that builds on multi-task learning to learn how to quickly adapt a model to new tasks. In the context of reinforcement learning, meta-learning algorithms can acquire reinforcement learning procedures to solve new problems more efficiently by meta-learning prior tasks. The performance of meta-learning algorithms critically depends on the tasks available for meta-training: in the same way that supervised learning algorithms generalize best to test points drawn from the same distribution as the training points, meta-learning methods generalize best to tasks from the same distribution as the meta-training tasks. In effect, meta-reinforcement learning offloads the design burden from algorithm design to task design. If we can automate the process of task design as well, we can devise a meta-learning algorithm that is truly automated. In this work, we take a step in this direction, proposing a family of unsupervised meta-learning algorithms for reinforcement learning. We describe a general recipe for unsupervised meta-reinforcement learning, and describe an effective instantiation of this approach based on a recently proposed unsupervised exploration technique and model-agnostic meta-learning. We also discuss practical and conceptual considerations for developing unsupervised meta-learning methods. Our experimental results demonstrate that unsupervised meta-reinforcement learning effectively acquires accelerated reinforcement learning procedures without the need for manual task design, significantly exceeds the performance of learning from scratch, and even matches performance of meta-learning methods that use hand-specified task distributions.

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This paper presents a safety-aware learning framework that employs an adaptive model learning method together with barrier certificates for systems with possibly nonstationary agent dynamics. To extract the dynamic structure of the model, we use a sparse optimization technique, and the resulting model will be used in combination with control barrier certificates which constrain feedback controllers only when safety is about to be violated. Under some mild assumptions, solutions to the constrained feedback-controller optimization are guaranteed to be globally optimal, and the monotonic improvement of a feedback controller is thus ensured. In addition, we reformulate the (action-)value function approximation to make any kernel-based nonlinear function estimation method applicable. We then employ a state-of-the-art kernel adaptive filtering technique for the (action-)value function approximation. The resulting framework is verified experimentally on a brushbot, whose dynamics is unknown and highly complex.

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