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Designing Biological Sequences via Meta-Reinforcement Learning and Bayesian Optimization
Leo Feng · Padideh Nouri · Aneri Muni · Yoshua Bengio · Pierre-Luc Bacon

Designing functionally interesting biological sequences pose challenges due to the combinatorially large space of the problem. As such, the acceleration of exploration through this landscape can have a substantial impact on the progress of the medical field. Motivated by this, we propose MetaRLBO where we (1) train an autoregressive generative model via Meta-Reinforcement Learning augmented with surrogate reward functions and exploration bonus to navigate through the sequence space efficiently. The Meta-RL policy is trained over a distribution of beliefs (i.e., proxy oracles) of the objective function, encouraging the policy to generate diverse sequences. Due to the large-batch and low-round nature of the wet-lab evaluations (true function evaluation), we (2) perform a more targeted evaluation through Bayesian Optimization. Our in-silico experiments show that meta-learning over such ensembles provides robustness against reward misspecification and achieves competitive results compared to existing strong baselines.

Author Information

Leo Feng (Borealis AI & Mila)
Padideh Nouri (Mila, UdeM)
Aneri Muni (ETH Zurich)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila / U. Montreal)

Yoshua Bengio is Full Professor in the computer science and operations research department at U. Montreal, scientific director and founder of Mila and of IVADO, Turing Award 2018 recipient, Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms, as well as a Canada AI CIFAR Chair. He pioneered deep learning and has been getting the most citations per day in 2018 among all computer scientists, worldwide. He is an officer of the Order of Canada, member of the Royal Society of Canada, was awarded the Killam Prize, the Marie-Victorin Prize and the Radio-Canada Scientist of the year in 2017, and he is a member of the NeurIPS advisory board and co-founder of the ICLR conference, as well as program director of the CIFAR program on Learning in Machines and Brains. His goal is to contribute to uncover the principles giving rise to intelligence through learning, as well as favour the development of AI for the benefit of all.

Pierre-Luc Bacon (Mila)

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