Collaborating Authors

VASE: Variational Assorted Surprise Exploration for Reinforcement Learning Machine Learning

Exploration in environments with continuous control and sparse rewards remains a key challenge in reinforcement learning (RL). Recently, surprise has been used as an intrinsic reward that encourages systematic and efficient exploration. We introduce a new definition of surprise and its RL implementation named Variational Assorted Surprise Exploration (VASE). VASE uses a Bayesian neural network as a model of the environment dynamics and is trained using variational inference, alternately updating the accuracy of the agent's model and policy. Our experiments show that in continuous control sparse reward environments VASE outperforms other surprise-based exploration techniques.

Curiosity-Driven Multi-Criteria Hindsight Experience Replay Artificial Intelligence

Dealing with sparse rewards is a longstanding challenge in reinforcement learning. The recent use of hindsight methods have achieved success on a variety of sparse-reward tasks, but they fail on complex tasks such as stacking multiple blocks with a robot arm in simulation. Curiosity-driven exploration using the prediction error of a learned dynamics model as an intrinsic reward has been shown to be effective for exploring a number of sparse-reward environments. We present a method that combines hindsight with curiosity-driven exploration and curriculum learning in order to solve the challenging sparse-reward block stacking task. We are the first to stack more than two blocks using only sparse reward without human demonstrations.

MIME: Mutual Information Minimisation Exploration Machine Learning

We show that reinforcement learning agents that learn by surprise (surprisal) get stuck at abrupt environmental transition boundaries because these transitions are difficult to learn. We propose a counter-intuitive solution that we call Mutual Information Minimising Exploration (MIME) where an agent learns a latent representation of the environment without trying to predict the future states. We show that our agent performs significantly better over sharp transition boundaries while matching the performance of surprisal driven agents elsewhere. In particular, we show state-of-the-art performance on difficult learning games such as Gravitar, Montezuma's Revenge and Doom.

Scoring-Aggregating-Planning: Learning task-agnostic priors from interactions and sparse rewards for zero-shot generalization Artificial Intelligence

Humans can learn task-agnostic priors from interactive experience and utilize the priors for novel tasks without any finetuning. In this paper, we propose Scoring-Aggregating-Planning (SAP), a framework that can learn task-agnostic semantics and dynamics priors from arbitrary quality interactions under sparse reward and then plan on unseen tasks in zero-shot condition. The framework finds a neural score function for local regional state and action pairs that can be aggregated to approximate the quality of a full trajectory; moreover, a dynamics model that is learned with self-supervision can be incorporated for planning. Many previous works that leverage interactive data for policy learning either need massive on-policy environmental interactions or assume access to expert data while we can achieve a similar goal with pure off-policy imperfect data. Instantiating our framework results in a generalizable policy to unseen tasks. Experiments demonstrate that the proposed method can outperform baseline methods on a wide range of applications including gridworld, robotics tasks, and video games.

Reward-Free Exploration for Reinforcement Learning Machine Learning

Exploration is widely regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of reinforcement learning (RL), with many naive approaches succumbing to exponential sample complexity. To isolate the challenges of exploration, we propose a new "reward-free RL" framework. In the exploration phase, the agent first collects trajectories from an MDP $\mathcal{M}$ without a pre-specified reward function. After exploration, it is tasked with computing near-optimal policies under for $\mathcal{M}$ for a collection of given reward functions. This framework is particularly suitable when there are many reward functions of interest, or when the reward function is shaped by an external agent to elicit desired behavior. We give an efficient algorithm that conducts $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(S^2A\mathrm{poly}(H)/\epsilon^2)$ episodes of exploration and returns $\epsilon$-suboptimal policies for an arbitrary number of reward functions. We achieve this by finding exploratory policies that visit each "significant" state with probability proportional to its maximum visitation probability under any possible policy. Moreover, our planning procedure can be instantiated by any black-box approximate planner, such as value iteration or natural policy gradient. We also give a nearly-matching $\Omega(S^2AH^2/\epsilon^2)$ lower bound, demonstrating the near-optimality of our algorithm in this setting.