There are families of neural networks that can learn to compute any function, provided sufficient training data. However, given that in practice training data is scarce for all but a small set of problems, a core question is how to incorporate prior knowledge into a model. Here we consider the case of prior procedural knowledge such as knowing the overall recursive structure of a sequence transduction program or the fact that a program will likely use arithmetic operations on real numbers to solve a task. To this end we present a differentiable interpreter for the programming language Forth. Through a neural implementation of the dual stack machine that underlies Forth, programmers can write program sketches with slots that can be filled with learnable behaviour. As the program interpreter is end-to-end differentiable, we can optimize this behaviour directly through gradient descent techniques on user specified objectives, and also integrate the program into any larger neural computation graph. We show empirically that our interpreter is able to effectively leverage different levels of prior program structure and learn complex transduction tasks such as sequence sorting or addition with substantially less data and better generalisation over problem sizes. In addition, we introduce neural program optimisations based on symbolic computation and parallel branching that lead to significant speed improvements.
Full text: https://arxiv.org/abs/1605.06640
Most learning algorithms are not invariant to the scale of the function that is being approximated. We propose to adaptively normalize the targets used in learning. This is useful in value-based reinforcement learning, where the magnitude of appropriate value approximations can change over time when we update the policy of behavior. Our main motivation is prior work on learning to play Atari games, where the rewards were all clipped to a predetermined range. This clipping facilitates learning across many different games with a single learning algorithm, but a clipped reward function can result in qualitatively different behavior. Using the adaptive normalization we can remove this domain-specific heuristic without diminishing overall performance.
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.
Full text: http://www.roboticsproceedings.org/rss10/p31.pdf