We study constrained reinforcement learning (CRL) from a novel perspective by setting constraints directly on state density functions, rather than the value functions considered by previous works. State density has a clear physical and mathematical interpretation, and is able to express a wide variety of constraints such as resource limits and safety requirements. Density constraints can also avoid the time-consuming process of designing and tuning cost functions required by value function-based constraints to encode system specifications. We leverage the duality between density functions and Q functions to develop an effective algorithm to solve the density constrained RL problem optimally and the constrains are guaranteed to be satisfied. We prove that the proposed algorithm converges to a near-optimal solution with a bounded error even when the policy update is imperfect. We use a set of comprehensive experiments to demonstrate the advantages of our approach over state-of-the-art CRL methods, with a wide range of density constrained tasks as well as standard CRL benchmarks such as Safety-Gym.

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强化学习(RL)是机器学习的一个领域,与软件代理应如何在环境中采取行动以最大化累积奖励的概念有关。除了监督学习和非监督学习外,强化学习是三种基本的机器学习范式之一。 强化学习与监督学习的不同之处在于,不需要呈现带标签的输入/输出对,也不需要显式纠正次优动作。相反,重点是在探索(未知领域)和利用(当前知识)之间找到平衡。 该环境通常以马尔可夫决策过程(MDP)的形式陈述,因为针对这种情况的许多强化学习算法都使用动态编程技术。经典动态规划方法和强化学习算法之间的主要区别在于,后者不假设MDP的确切数学模型,并且针对无法采用精确方法的大型MDP。

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Safety is essential for reinforcement learning (RL) applied in the real world. Adding chance constraints (or probabilistic constraints) is a suitable way to enhance RL safety under uncertainty. Existing chance-constrained RL methods like the penalty methods and the Lagrangian methods either exhibit periodic oscillations or learn an over-conservative or unsafe policy. In this paper, we address these shortcomings by proposing a separated proportional-integral Lagrangian (SPIL) algorithm. We first review the constrained policy optimization process from a feedback control perspective, which regards the penalty weight as the control input and the safe probability as the control output. Based on this, the penalty method is formulated as a proportional controller, and the Lagrangian method is formulated as an integral controller. We then unify them and present a proportional-integral Lagrangian method to get both their merits, with an integral separation technique to limit the integral value in a reasonable range. To accelerate training, the gradient of safe probability is computed in a model-based manner. We demonstrate our method can reduce the oscillations and conservatism of RL policy in a car-following simulation. To prove its practicality, we also apply our method to a real-world mobile robot navigation task, where our robot successfully avoids a moving obstacle with highly uncertain or even aggressive behaviors.

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Solving complex, temporally-extended tasks is a long-standing problem in reinforcement learning (RL). We hypothesize that one critical element of solving such problems is the notion of compositionality. With the ability to learn concepts and sub-skills that can be composed to solve longer tasks, i.e. hierarchical RL, we can acquire temporally-extended behaviors. However, acquiring effective yet general abstractions for hierarchical RL is remarkably challenging. In this paper, we propose to use language as the abstraction, as it provides unique compositional structure, enabling fast learning and combinatorial generalization, while retaining tremendous flexibility, making it suitable for a variety of problems. Our approach learns an instruction-following low-level policy and a high-level policy that can reuse abstractions across tasks, in essence, permitting agents to reason using structured language. To study compositional task learning, we introduce an open-source object interaction environment built using the MuJoCo physics engine and the CLEVR engine. We find that, using our approach, agents can learn to solve to diverse, temporally-extended tasks such as object sorting and multi-object rearrangement, including from raw pixel observations. Our analysis find that the compositional nature of language is critical for learning diverse sub-skills and systematically generalizing to new sub-skills in comparison to non-compositional abstractions that use the same supervision.

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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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In this paper, we propose a deep reinforcement learning framework called GCOMB to learn algorithms that can solve combinatorial problems over large graphs. GCOMB mimics the greedy algorithm in the original problem and incrementally constructs a solution. The proposed framework utilizes Graph Convolutional Network (GCN) to generate node embeddings that predicts the potential nodes in the solution set from the entire node set. These embeddings enable an efficient training process to learn the greedy policy via Q-learning. Through extensive evaluation on several real and synthetic datasets containing up to a million nodes, we establish that GCOMB is up to 41% better than the state of the art, up to seven times faster than the greedy algorithm, robust and scalable to large dynamic networks.

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Efficient exploration remains a major challenge for reinforcement learning. One reason is that the variability of the returns often depends on the current state and action, and is therefore heteroscedastic. Classical exploration strategies such as upper confidence bound algorithms and Thompson sampling fail to appropriately account for heteroscedasticity, even in the bandit setting. Motivated by recent findings that address this issue in bandits, we propose to use Information-Directed Sampling (IDS) for exploration in reinforcement learning. As our main contribution, we build on recent advances in distributional reinforcement learning and propose a novel, tractable approximation of IDS for deep Q-learning. The resulting exploration strategy explicitly accounts for both parametric uncertainty and heteroscedastic observation noise. We evaluate our method on Atari games and demonstrate a significant improvement over alternative approaches.

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This paper proposes a model-free Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithm to synthesise policies for an unknown Markov Decision Process (MDP), such that a linear time property is satisfied. We convert the given property into a Limit Deterministic Buchi Automaton (LDBA), then construct a synchronized MDP between the automaton and the original MDP. According to the resulting LDBA, a reward function is then defined over the state-action pairs of the product MDP. With this reward function, our algorithm synthesises a policy whose traces satisfies the linear time property: as such, the policy synthesis procedure is "constrained" by the given specification. Additionally, we show that the RL procedure sets up an online value iteration method to calculate the maximum probability of satisfying the given property, at any given state of the MDP - a convergence proof for the procedure is provided. Finally, the performance of the algorithm is evaluated via a set of numerical examples. We observe an improvement of one order of magnitude in the number of iterations required for the synthesis compared to existing approaches.

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This paper presents a novel approach for synthesizing automatically age-progressed facial images in video sequences using Deep Reinforcement Learning. The proposed method models facial structures and the longitudinal face-aging process of given subjects coherently across video frames. The approach is optimized using a long-term reward, Reinforcement Learning function with deep feature extraction from Deep Convolutional Neural Network. Unlike previous age-progression methods that are only able to synthesize an aged likeness of a face from a single input image, the proposed approach is capable of age-progressing facial likenesses in videos with consistently synthesized facial features across frames. In addition, the deep reinforcement learning method guarantees preservation of the visual identity of input faces after age-progression. Results on videos of our new collected aging face AGFW-v2 database demonstrate the advantages of the proposed solution in terms of both quality of age-progressed faces, temporal smoothness, and cross-age face verification.

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We consider the exploration-exploitation trade-off in reinforcement learning and we show that an agent imbued with a risk-seeking utility function is able to explore efficiently, as measured by regret. The parameter that controls how risk-seeking the agent is can be optimized exactly, or annealed according to a schedule. We call the resulting algorithm K-learning and show that the corresponding K-values are optimistic for the expected Q-values at each state-action pair. The K-values induce a natural Boltzmann exploration policy for which the `temperature' parameter is equal to the risk-seeking parameter. This policy achieves an expected regret bound of $\tilde O(L^{3/2} \sqrt{S A T})$, where $L$ is the time horizon, $S$ is the number of states, $A$ is the number of actions, and $T$ is the total number of elapsed time-steps. This bound is only a factor of $L$ larger than the established lower bound. K-learning can be interpreted as mirror descent in the policy space, and it is similar to other well-known methods in the literature, including Q-learning, soft-Q-learning, and maximum entropy policy gradient, and is closely related to optimism and count based exploration methods. K-learning is simple to implement, as it only requires adding a bonus to the reward at each state-action and then solving a Bellman equation. We conclude with a numerical example demonstrating that K-learning is competitive with other state-of-the-art algorithms in practice.

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We present an end-to-end framework for solving the Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) using reinforcement learning. In this approach, we train a single model that finds near-optimal solutions for problem instances sampled from a given distribution, only by observing the reward signals and following feasibility rules. Our model represents a parameterized stochastic policy, and by applying a policy gradient algorithm to optimize its parameters, the trained model produces the solution as a sequence of consecutive actions in real time, without the need to re-train for every new problem instance. On capacitated VRP, our approach outperforms classical heuristics and Google's OR-Tools on medium-sized instances in solution quality with comparable computation time (after training). We demonstrate how our approach can handle problems with split delivery and explore the effect of such deliveries on the solution quality. Our proposed framework can be applied to other variants of the VRP such as the stochastic VRP, and has the potential to be applied more generally to combinatorial optimization problems.

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Recommender systems play a crucial role in mitigating the problem of information overload by suggesting users' personalized items or services. The vast majority of traditional recommender systems consider the recommendation procedure as a static process and make recommendations following a fixed strategy. In this paper, we propose a novel recommender system with the capability of continuously improving its strategies during the interactions with users. We model the sequential interactions between users and a recommender system as a Markov Decision Process (MDP) and leverage Reinforcement Learning (RL) to automatically learn the optimal strategies via recommending trial-and-error items and receiving reinforcements of these items from users' feedbacks. In particular, we introduce an online user-agent interacting environment simulator, which can pre-train and evaluate model parameters offline before applying the model online. Moreover, we validate the importance of list-wise recommendations during the interactions between users and agent, and develop a novel approach to incorporate them into the proposed framework LIRD for list-wide recommendations. The experimental results based on a real-world e-commerce dataset demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework.

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