For an autonomous agent to fulfill a wide range of user-specified goals at test time, it must be able to learn broadly applicable and general-purpose skill repertoires. Furthermore, to provide the requisite level of generality, these skills must handle raw sensory input such as images. In this paper, we propose an algorithm that acquires such general-purpose skills by combining unsupervised representation learning and reinforcement learning of goal-conditioned policies. Since the particular goals that might be required at test-time are not known in advance, the agent performs a self-supervised "practice" phase where it imagines goals and attempts to achieve them. We learn a visual representation with three distinct purposes: sampling goals for self-supervised practice, providing a structured transformation of raw sensory inputs, and computing a reward signal for goal reaching. We also propose a retroactive goal relabeling scheme to further improve the sample-efficiency of our method. Our off-policy algorithm is efficient enough to learn policies that operate on raw image observations and goals for a real-world robotic system, and substantially outperforms prior techniques.
In this paper, we investigate the challenges of using reinforcement learning agents for question-answering over knowledge graphs for real-world applications. We examine the performance metrics used by state-of-the-art systems and determine that they are inadequate for such settings. More specifically, they do not evaluate the systems correctly for situations when there is no answer available and thus agents optimized for these metrics are poor at modeling confidence. We introduce a simple new performance metric for evaluating question-answering agents that is more representative of practical usage conditions, and optimize for this metric by extending the binary reward structure used in prior work to a ternary reward structure which also rewards an agent for not answering a question rather than giving an incorrect answer. We show that this can drastically improve the precision of answered questions while only not answering a limited number of previously correctly answered questions. Employing a supervised learning strategy using depth-first-search paths to bootstrap the reinforcement learning algorithm further improves performance.
Active learning from demonstration allows a robot to query a human for specific types of input to achieve efficient learning. Existing work has explored a variety of active query strategies; however, to our knowledge, none of these strategies directly minimize the performance risk of the policy the robot is learning. Utilizing recent advances in performance bounds for inverse reinforcement learning, we propose a risk-aware active inverse reinforcement learning algorithm that focuses active queries on areas of the state space with the potential for large generalization error. We show that risk-aware active learning outperforms standard active IRL approaches on gridworld, simulated driving, and table setting tasks, while also providing a performance-based stopping criterion that allows a robot to know when it has received enough demonstrations to safely perform a task.
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.
This paper tackles a new problem setting: reinforcement learning with pixel-wise rewards (pixelRL) for image processing. After the introduction of the deep Q-network, deep RL has been achieving great success. However, the applications of deep RL for image processing are still limited. Therefore, we extend deep RL to pixelRL for various image processing applications. In pixelRL, each pixel has an agent, and the agent changes the pixel value by taking an action. We also propose an effective learning method for pixelRL that significantly improves the performance by considering not only the future states of the own pixel but also those of the neighbor pixels. The proposed method can be applied to some image processing tasks that require pixel-wise manipulations, where deep RL has never been applied. We apply the proposed method to three image processing tasks: image denoising, image restoration, and local color enhancement. Our experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method achieves comparable or better performance, compared with the state-of-the-art methods based on supervised learning.
We introduce an approach for deep reinforcement learning (RL) that improves upon the efficiency, generalization capacity, and interpretability of conventional approaches through structured perception and relational reasoning. It uses self-attention to iteratively reason about the relations between entities in a scene and to guide a model-free policy. Our results show that in a novel navigation and planning task called Box-World, our agent finds interpretable solutions that improve upon baselines in terms of sample complexity, ability to generalize to more complex scenes than experienced during training, and overall performance. In the StarCraft II Learning Environment, our agent achieves state-of-the-art performance on six mini-games -- surpassing human grandmaster performance on four. By considering architectural inductive biases, our work opens new directions for overcoming important, but stubborn, challenges in deep RL.
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.
A major goal of unsupervised learning is to discover data representations that are useful for subsequent tasks, without access to supervised labels during training. Typically, this goal is approached by minimizing a surrogate objective, such as the negative log likelihood of a generative model, with the hope that representations useful for subsequent tasks will arise incidentally. In this work, we propose instead to directly target a later desired task by meta-learning an unsupervised learning rule, which leads to representations useful for that task. Here, our desired task (meta-objective) is the performance of the representation on semi-supervised classification, and we meta-learn an algorithm -- an unsupervised weight update rule -- that produces representations that perform well under this meta-objective. Additionally, we constrain our unsupervised update rule to a be a biologically-motivated, neuron-local function, which enables it to generalize to novel neural network architectures. We show that the meta-learned update rule produces useful features and sometimes outperforms existing unsupervised learning techniques. We further show that the meta-learned unsupervised update rule generalizes to train networks with different widths, depths, and nonlinearities. It also generalizes to train on data with randomly permuted input dimensions and even generalizes from image datasets to a text task.
This paper introduces a novel neural network-based reinforcement learning approach for robot gaze control. Our approach enables a robot to learn and to adapt its gaze control strategy for human-robot interaction neither with the use of external sensors nor with human supervision. The robot learns to focus its attention onto groups of people from its own audio-visual experiences, independently of the number of people, of their positions and of their physical appearances. In particular, we use a recurrent neural network architecture in combination with Q-learning to find an optimal action-selection policy; we pre-train the network using a simulated environment that mimics realistic scenarios that involve speaking/silent participants, thus avoiding the need of tedious sessions of a robot interacting with people. Our experimental evaluation suggests that the proposed method is robust against parameter estimation, i.e. the parameter values yielded by the method do not have a decisive impact on the performance. The best results are obtained when both audio and visual information is jointly used. Experiments with the Nao robot indicate that our framework is a step forward towards the autonomous learning of socially acceptable gaze behavior.
This paper proposes a Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithm to synthesize policies for a Markov Decision Process (MDP), such that a linear time property is satisfied. We convert the property into a Limit Deterministic Buchi Automaton (LDBA), then construct a product MDP between the automaton and the original MDP. A reward function is then assigned to the states of the product automaton, according to accepting conditions of the LDBA. With this reward function, our algorithm synthesizes a policy that 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.