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Orals & Spotlights Track 14: Reinforcement Learning

Each Oral includes Q&A
Spotlights have joint Q&As


2020-12-08T18:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T21:00:00-08:00

Session chairs

Deepak Pathak, Martha White



To ask questions please use rocketchat, available only upon registration and login.


2020-12-08T18:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T18:15:00-08:00
1 - Oral: Rewriting History with Inverse RL: Hindsight Inference for Policy Improvement
Benjamin Eysenbach, XINYANG GENG, Sergey Levine, Russ Salakhutdinov
Multi-task reinforcement learning (RL) aims to simultaneously learn policies for solving many tasks. Several prior works have found that relabeling past experience with different reward functions can improve sample efficiency. Relabeling methods typically pose the question: if, in hindsight, we assume that our experience was optimal for some task, for what task was it optimal? Inverse RL answers this question. In this paper we show that inverse RL is a principled mechanism for reusing experience across tasks. We use this idea to generalize goal-relabeling techniques from prior work to arbitrary types of reward functions. Our experiments confirm that relabeling data using inverse RL outperforms prior relabeling methods on goal-reaching tasks, and accelerates learning on more general multi-task settings where prior methods are not applicable, such as domains with discrete sets of rewards and those with linear reward functions.
2020-12-08T18:15:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T18:30:00-08:00
2 - Oral: Learning Individually Inferred Communication for Multi-Agent Cooperation
Ziluo Ding, Tiejun Huang, Zongqing Lu
Communication lays the foundation for human cooperation. It is also crucial for multi-agent cooperation. However, existing work focuses on broadcast communication, which is not only impractical but also leads to information redundancy that could even impair the learning process. To tackle these difficulties, we propose Individually Inferred Communication (I2C), a simple yet effective model to enable agents to learn a prior for agent-agent communication. The prior knowledge is learned via causal inference and realized by a feed-forward neural network that maps the agent's local observation to a belief about who to communicate with. The influence of one agent on another is inferred via the joint action-value function in multi-agent reinforcement learning and quantified to label the necessity of agent-agent communication. Furthermore, the agent policy is regularized to better exploit communicated messages. Empirically, we show that I2C can not only reduce communication overhead but also improve the performance in a variety of multi-agent cooperative scenarios, comparing to existing methods.
2020-12-08T18:30:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T18:45:00-08:00
3 - Oral: Can Temporal-Difference and Q-Learning Learn Representation? A Mean-Field Theory
Yufeng Zhang, Qi Cai, Zhuoran Yang, Yongxin Chen, Zhaoran Wang
Temporal-difference and Q-learning play a key role in deep reinforcement learning, where they are empowered by expressive nonlinear function approximators such as neural networks. At the core of their empirical successes is the learned feature representation, which embeds rich observations, e.g., images and texts, into the latent space that encodes semantic structures. Meanwhile, the evolution of such a feature representation is crucial to the convergence of temporal-difference and Q-learning. In particular, temporal-difference learning converges when the function approximator is linear in a feature representation, which is fixed throughout learning, and possibly diverges otherwise. We aim to answer the following questions: When the function approximator is a neural network, how does the associated feature representation evolve? If it converges, does it converge to the optimal one? We prove that utilizing an overparameterized two-layer neural network, temporal-difference and Q-learning globally minimize the mean-squared projected Bellman error at a sublinear rate. Moreover, the associated feature representation converges to the optimal one, generalizing the previous analysis of Cai et al. (2019) in the neural tangent kernel regime, where the associated feature representation stabilizes at the initial one. The key to our analysis is a mean-field perspective, which connects the evolution of a finite-dimensional parameter to its limiting counterpart over an infinite-dimensional Wasserstein space. Our analysis generalizes to soft Q-learning, which is further connected to policy gradient.
2020-12-08T18:45:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T19:00:00-08:00
2020-12-08T19:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T19:10:00-08:00
5 - Spotlight: Reinforcement Learning with Augmented Data
Misha Laskin, Kimin Lee, Adam Stooke, Lerrel Pinto, Pieter Abbeel, Aravind Srinivas
Learning from visual observations is a fundamental yet challenging problem in Reinforcement Learning (RL). Although algorithmic advances combined with convolutional neural networks have proved to be a recipe for success, current methods are still lacking on two fronts: (a) data-efficiency of learning and (b) generalization to new environments. To this end, we present Reinforcement Learning with Augmented Data (RAD), a simple plug-and-play module that can enhance most RL algorithms. We perform the first extensive study of general data augmentations for RL on both pixel-based and state-based inputs, and introduce two new data augmentations - random translate and random amplitude scale. We show that augmentations such as random translate, crop, color jitter, patch cutout, random convolutions, and amplitude scale can enable simple RL algorithms to outperform complex state-of-the-art methods across common benchmarks. RAD sets a new state-of-the-art in terms of data-efficiency and final performance on the DeepMind Control Suite benchmark for pixel-based control as well as OpenAI Gym benchmark for state-based control. We further demonstrate that RAD significantly improves test-time generalization over existing methods on several OpenAI ProcGen benchmarks.
2020-12-08T19:10:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T19:20:00-08:00
6 - Spotlight: Sub-sampling for Efficient Non-Parametric Bandit Exploration
Dorian Baudry, Emilie Kaufmann, Odalric-Ambrym Maillard
In this paper we propose the first multi-armed bandit algorithm based on re-sampling that achieves asymptotically optimal regret simultaneously for different families of arms (namely Bernoulli, Gaussian and Poisson distributions). Unlike Thompson Sampling which requires to specify a different prior to be optimal in each case, our proposal RB-SDA does not need any distribution-dependent tuning. RB-SDA belongs to the family of Sub-sampling Duelling Algorithms (SDA) which combines the sub-sampling idea first used by the BESA and SSMC algorithms with different sub-sampling schemes. In particular, RB-SDA uses Random Block sampling. We perform an experimental study assessing the flexibility and robustness of this promising novel approach for exploration in bandit models.
2020-12-08T19:20:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T19:30:00-08:00
7 - Spotlight: Language-Conditioned Imitation Learning for Robot Manipulation Tasks
Simon Stepputtis, Joseph Campbell, Mariano Phielipp, Stefan Lee, Chitta Baral, Heni Ben Amor
Imitation learning is a popular approach for teaching motor skills to robots. However, most approaches focus on extracting policy parameters from execution traces alone (i.e., motion trajectories and perceptual data). No adequate communication channel exists between the human expert and the robot to describe critical aspects of the task, such as the properties of the target object or the intended shape of the motion. Motivated by insights into the human teaching process, we introduce a method for incorporating unstructured natural language into imitation learning. At training time, the expert can provide demonstrations along with verbal descriptions in order to describe the underlying intent (e.g., "go to the large green bowl"). The training process then interrelates these two modalities to encode the correlations between language, perception, and motion. The resulting language-conditioned visuomotor policies can be conditioned at runtime on new human commands and instructions, which allows for more fine-grained control over the trained policies while also reducing situational ambiguity. We demonstrate in a set of simulation experiments how our approach can learn language-conditioned manipulation policies for a seven-degree-of-freedom robot arm and compare the results to a variety of alternative methods.
2020-12-08T19:30:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T19:40:00-08:00
8 - Spotlight: High-Dimensional Contextual Policy Search with Unknown Context Rewards using Bayesian Optimization
Qing Feng , Ben Letham, Hongzi Mao, Eytan Bakshy
Contextual policies are used in many settings to customize system parameters and actions to the specifics of a particular setting. In some real-world settings, such as randomized controlled trials or A/B tests, it may not be possible to measure policy outcomes at the level of context—we observe only aggregate rewards across a distribution of contexts. This makes policy optimization much more difficult because we must solve a high-dimensional optimization problem over the entire space of contextual policies, for which existing optimization methods are not suitable. We develop effective models that leverage the structure of the search space to enable contextual policy optimization directly from the aggregate rewards using Bayesian optimization. We use a collection of simulation studies to characterize the performance and robustness of the models, and show that our approach of inferring a low-dimensional context embedding performs best. Finally, we show successful contextual policy optimization in a real-world video bitrate policy problem.
2020-12-08T19:40:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T19:50:00-08:00
Q&A: Joint Q&A for Preceeding Spotlights
2020-12-08T19:50:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T20:00:00-08:00
10 - Spotlight: Policy Improvement via Imitation of Multiple Oracles
Ching-An Cheng, Andrey Kolobov, Alekh Agarwal
Despite its promise, reinforcement learning’s real-world adoption has been hampered by the need for costly exploration to learn a good policy. Imitation learning (IL) mitigates this shortcoming by using an oracle policy during training as a bootstrap to accelerate the learning process. However, in many practical situations, the learner has access to multiple suboptimal oracles, which may provide conflicting advice in a state. The existing IL literature provides a limited treatment of such scenarios. Whereas in the single-oracle case, the return of the oracle’s policy provides an obvious benchmark for the learner to compete against, neither such a benchmark nor principled ways of outperforming it are known for the multi-oracle setting. In this paper, we propose the state-wise maximum of the oracle policies’ values as a natural baseline to resolve conflicting advice from multiple oracles. Using a reduction of policy optimization to online learning, we introduce a novel IL algorithm MAMBA, which can provably learn a policy competitive with this benchmark. In particular, MAMBA optimizes policies by using a gradient estimator in the style of generalized advantage estimation (GAE). Our theoretical analysis shows that this design makes MAMBA robust and enables it to outperform the oracle policies by a larger margin than the IL state of the art, even in the single-oracle case. In an evaluation against standard policy gradient with GAE and AggreVaTe(D), we showcase MAMBA’s ability to leverage demonstrations both from a single and from multiple weak oracles, and significantly speed up policy optimization.
2020-12-08T20:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T20:10:00-08:00
11 - Spotlight: Generating Adjacency-Constrained Subgoals in Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning
Tianren Zhang, Shangqi Guo, Tian Tan, Xiaolin Hu, Feng Chen
Goal-conditioned hierarchical reinforcement learning (HRL) is a promising approach for scaling up reinforcement learning (RL) techniques. However, it often suffers from training inefficiency as the action space of the high-level, i.e., the goal space, is often large. Searching in a large goal space poses difficulties for both high-level subgoal generation and low-level policy learning. In this paper, we show that this problem can be effectively alleviated by restricting the high-level action space from the whole goal space to a k-step adjacent region of the current state using an adjacency constraint. We theoretically prove that the proposed adjacency constraint preserves the optimal hierarchical policy in deterministic MDPs, and show that this constraint can be practically implemented by training an adjacency network that can discriminate between adjacent and non-adjacent subgoals. Experimental results on discrete and continuous control tasks show that incorporating the adjacency constraint improves the performance of state-of-the-art HRL approaches in both deterministic and stochastic environments.
2020-12-08T20:10:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T20:20:00-08:00
12 - Spotlight: Avoiding Side Effects in Complex Environments
Alex Turner, Neale Ratzlaff, Prasad Tadepalli
Reward function specification can be difficult. Rewarding the agent for making a widget may be easy, but penalizing the multitude of possible negative side effects is hard. In toy environments, Attainable Utility Preservation (AUP) avoided side effects by penalizing shifts in the ability to achieve randomly generated goals. We scale this approach to large, randomly generated environments based on Conway's Game of Life. By preserving optimal value for a single randomly generated reward function, AUP incurs modest overhead while leading the agent to complete the specified task and avoid many side effects. Videos and code are available at
2020-12-08T20:20:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T20:30:00-08:00
13 - Spotlight: Preference-based Reinforcement Learning with Finite-Time Guarantees
Yichong Xu, Ruosong Wang, Lin Yang, Aarti Singh, Artur Dubrawski
Preference-based Reinforcement Learning (PbRL) replaces reward values in traditional reinforcement learning by preferences to better elicit human opinion on the target objective, especially when numerical reward values are hard to design or interpret. Despite promising results in applications, the theoretical understanding of PbRL is still in its infancy. In this paper, we present the first finite-time analysis for general PbRL problems. We first show that a unique optimal policy may not exist if preferences over trajectories are deterministic for PbRL. If preferences are stochastic, and the preference probability relates to the hidden reward values, we present algorithms for PbRL, both with and without a simulator, that are able to identify the best policy up to accuracy $\varepsilon$ with high probability. Our method explores the state space by navigating to under-explored states, and solves PbRL using a combination of dueling bandits and policy search. Experiments show the efficacy of our method when it is applied to real-world problems.
2020-12-08T20:30:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T20:40:00-08:00
Q&A: Joint Q&A for Preceeding Spotlights
2020-12-08T20:40:00-08:00 - 2020-12-08T21:00:00-08:00