We study the link between generalization and interference in temporal-difference (TD) learning. Interference is defined as the inner product of two different gradients, representing their alignment. This quantity emerges as being of interest from a variety of observations about neural networks, parameter sharing and the dynamics of learning. We find that TD easily leads to low-interference, under-generalizing parameters, while the effect seems reversed in supervised learning. We hypothesize that the cause can be traced back to the interplay between the dynamics of interference and bootstrapping. This is supported empirically by several observations: the negative relationship between the generalization gap and interference in TD, the negative effect of bootstrapping on interference and the local coherence of targets, and the contrast between the propagation rate of information in TD(0) versus TD($\lambda$) and regression tasks such as Monte-Carlo policy evaluation. We hope that these new findings can guide the future discovery of better bootstrapping methods.

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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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Meta-reinforcement learning algorithms can enable robots to acquire new skills much more quickly, by leveraging prior experience to learn how to learn. However, much of the current research on meta-reinforcement learning focuses on task distributions that are very narrow. For example, a commonly used meta-reinforcement learning benchmark uses different running velocities for a simulated robot as different tasks. When policies are meta-trained on such narrow task distributions, they cannot possibly generalize to more quickly acquire entirely new tasks. Therefore, if the aim of these methods is to enable faster acquisition of entirely new behaviors, we must evaluate them on task distributions that are sufficiently broad to enable generalization to new behaviors. In this paper, we propose an open-source simulated benchmark for meta-reinforcement learning and multi-task learning consisting of 50 distinct robotic manipulation tasks. Our aim is to make it possible to develop algorithms that generalize to accelerate the acquisition of entirely new, held-out tasks. We evaluate 6 state-of-the-art meta-reinforcement learning and multi-task learning algorithms on these tasks. Surprisingly, while each task and its variations (e.g., with different object positions) can be learned with reasonable success, these algorithms struggle to learn with multiple tasks at the same time, even with as few as ten distinct training tasks. Our analysis and open-source environments pave the way for future research in multi-task learning and meta-learning that can enable meaningful generalization, thereby unlocking the full potential of these methods.

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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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In structure learning, the output is generally a structure that is used as supervision information to achieve good performance. Considering the interpretation of deep learning models has raised extended attention these years, it will be beneficial if we can learn an interpretable structure from deep learning models. In this paper, we focus on Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) whose inner mechanism is still not clearly understood. We find that Finite State Automaton (FSA) that processes sequential data has more interpretable inner mechanism and can be learned from RNNs as the interpretable structure. We propose two methods to learn FSA from RNN based on two different clustering methods. We first give the graphical illustration of FSA for human beings to follow, which shows the interpretability. From the FSA's point of view, we then analyze how the performance of RNNs are affected by the number of gates, as well as the semantic meaning behind the transition of numerical hidden states. Our results suggest that RNNs with simple gated structure such as Minimal Gated Unit (MGU) is more desirable and the transitions in FSA leading to specific classification result are associated with corresponding words which are understandable by human beings.

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Learning robot objective functions from human input has become increasingly important, but state-of-the-art techniques assume that the human's desired objective lies within the robot's hypothesis space. When this is not true, even methods that keep track of uncertainty over the objective fail because they reason about which hypothesis might be correct, and not whether any of the hypotheses are correct. We focus specifically on learning from physical human corrections during the robot's task execution, where not having a rich enough hypothesis space leads to the robot updating its objective in ways that the person did not actually intend. We observe that such corrections appear irrelevant to the robot, because they are not the best way of achieving any of the candidate objectives. Instead of naively trusting and learning from every human interaction, we propose robots learn conservatively by reasoning in real time about how relevant the human's correction is for the robot's hypothesis space. We test our inference method in an experiment with human interaction data, and demonstrate that this alleviates unintended learning in an in-person user study with a 7DoF robot manipulator.

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Autoencoders provide a powerful framework for learning compressed representations by encoding all of the information needed to reconstruct a data point in a latent code. In some cases, autoencoders can "interpolate": By decoding the convex combination of the latent codes for two datapoints, the autoencoder can produce an output which semantically mixes characteristics from the datapoints. In this paper, we propose a regularization procedure which encourages interpolated outputs to appear more realistic by fooling a critic network which has been trained to recover the mixing coefficient from interpolated data. We then develop a simple benchmark task where we can quantitatively measure the extent to which various autoencoders can interpolate and show that our regularizer dramatically improves interpolation in this setting. We also demonstrate empirically that our regularizer produces latent codes which are more effective on downstream tasks, suggesting a possible link between interpolation abilities and learning useful representations.

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A variety of machine learning models have been proposed to assess the performance of players in professional sports. However, they have only a limited ability to model how player performance depends on the game context. This paper proposes a new approach to capturing game context: we apply Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) to learn an action-value Q function from 3M play-by-play events in the National Hockey League (NHL). The neural network representation integrates both continuous context signals and game history, using a possession-based LSTM. The learned Q-function is used to value players' actions under different game contexts. To assess a player's overall performance, we introduce a novel Game Impact Metric (GIM) that aggregates the values of the player's actions. Empirical Evaluation shows GIM is consistent throughout a play season, and correlates highly with standard success measures and future salary.

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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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Policy gradient methods are often applied to reinforcement learning in continuous multiagent games. These methods perform local search in the joint-action space, and as we show, they are susceptable to a game-theoretic pathology known as relative overgeneralization. To resolve this issue, we propose Multiagent Soft Q-learning, which can be seen as the analogue of applying Q-learning to continuous controls. We compare our method to MADDPG, a state-of-the-art approach, and show that our method achieves better coordination in multiagent cooperative tasks, converging to better local optima in the joint action space.

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Amortized inference has led to efficient approximate inference for large datasets. The quality of posterior inference is largely determined by two factors: a) the ability of the variational distribution to model the true posterior and b) the capacity of the recognition network to generalize inference over all datapoints. We analyze approximate inference in variational autoencoders in terms of these factors. We find that suboptimal inference is often due to amortizing inference rather than the limited complexity of the approximating distribution. We show that this is due partly to the generator learning to accommodate the choice of approximation. Furthermore, we show that the parameters used to increase the expressiveness of the approximation play a role in generalizing inference rather than simply improving the complexity of the approximation.

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