Incentivizing Exploration In Reinforcement Learning With Deep Predictive Models

Achieving efficient and scalable exploration in complex domains poses a major challenge in reinforcement learning. While Bayesian and PAC-MDP approaches to the exploration problem offer strong formal guarantees, they are often impractical in higher dimensions due to their reliance on enumerating the state-action space. Hence, exploration in complex domains is often performed with simple epsilon-greedy methods. In this paper, we consider the challenging Atari games domain, which requires processing raw pixel inputs and delayed rewards. We evaluate several more sophisticated exploration strategies, including Thompson sampling and Boltzman exploration, and propose a new exploration method based on assigning exploration bonuses from a concurrently learned model of the system dynamics. By parameterizing our learned model with a neural network, we are able to develop a scalable and efficient approach to exploration bonuses that can be applied to tasks with complex, high-dimensional state spaces. In the Atari domain, our method provides the most consistent improvement across a range of games that pose a major challenge for prior methods. In addition to raw game-scores, we also develop an AUC-100 metric for the Atari Learning domain to evaluate the impact of exploration on this benchmark.


Active reward learning

While reward functions are an essential component of many robot learning methods, defining such functions remains a hard problem in many practical applications. For tasks such as grasping, there are no reliable success measures available. Defining reward functions by hand requires extensive task knowledge and often leads to undesired emergent behavior. Instead, we propose to learn the reward function through active learning, querying human expert knowledge for a subset of the agent’s rollouts. We introduce a framework, wherein a traditional learning algorithm interplays with the reward learning component, such that the evolution of the action learner guides the queries of the reward learner. We demonstrate results of our method on a robot grasping task and show that the learned reward function generalizes to a similar task.

Trust Region Policy Optimization

In this article, we describe a method for optimizing control policies, with guaranteed monotonic improvement. By making several approximations to the theoretically-justified scheme, we develop a practical algorithm, called Trust Region Policy Optimization (TRPO). This algorithm is effective for optimizing large nonlinear policies such as neural networks. Our experiments demonstrate its robust performance on a wide variety of tasks: learning simulated robotic swimming, hopping, and walking gaits; and playing Atari games using images of the screen as input. Despite its approximations that deviate from the theory, TRPO tends to give monotonic improvement, with little tuning of hyperparameters.

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Deep Reinforcement Learning With Macro-Actions

Deep reinforcement learning has been shown to be a powerful framework for learning policies from complex high-dimensional sensory inputs to actions in complex tasks, such as the Atari domain. In this paper, we explore output representation modeling in the form of temporal abstraction to improve convergence and reliability of deep reinforcement learning approaches. We concentrate on macro-actions, and evaluate these on different Atari 2600 games, where we show that they yield significant improvements in learning speed. Additionally, we show that they can even achieve better scores than DQN. We offer analysis and explanation for both convergence and final results, revealing a problem deep RL approaches have with sparse reward signals.

Black-Box Policy Search with Probabilistic Programs

In this work we show how to represent and learn policies that are themselves programs, i.e. stateful procedures with learnable parameters. Towards learning the parameters of such policies we develop connections between black box variational inference and existing policy learning approaches. We then explain how such learning can be implemented in a probabilistic programming system. Using our own novel implementation of such a system we demonstrate both conciseness of policy representation and automatic policy parameter learning for a range of canonical reinforcement learning problems.