Collaborating Authors

Abbeel, Pieter

Planning to Explore via Self-Supervised World Models Artificial Intelligence

Reinforcement learning allows solving complex tasks, however, the learning tends to be task-specific and the sample efficiency remains a challenge. We present Plan2Explore, a self-supervised reinforcement learning agent that tackles both these challenges through a new approach to self-supervised exploration and fast adaptation to new tasks, which need not be known during exploration. During exploration, unlike prior methods which retrospectively compute the novelty of observations after the agent has already reached them, our agent acts efficiently by leveraging planning to seek out expected future novelty. After exploration, the agent quickly adapts to multiple downstream tasks in a zero or a few-shot manner. We evaluate on challenging control tasks from high-dimensional image inputs. Without any training supervision or task-specific interaction, Plan2Explore outperforms prior self-supervised exploration methods, and in fact, almost matches the performances oracle which has access to rewards. Videos and code at

Automatic Curriculum Learning through Value Disagreement Artificial Intelligence

Continually solving new, unsolved tasks is the key to learning diverse behaviors. Through reinforcement learning (RL), we have made massive strides towards solving tasks that have a single goal. However, in the multi-task domain, where an agent needs to reach multiple goals, the choice of training goals can largely affect sample efficiency. When biological agents learn, there is often an organized and meaningful order to which learning happens. Inspired by this, we propose setting up an automatic curriculum for goals that the agent needs to solve. Our key insight is that if we can sample goals at the frontier of the set of goals that an agent is able to reach, it will provide a significantly stronger learning signal compared to randomly sampled goals. To operationalize this idea, we introduce a goal proposal module that prioritizes goals that maximize the epistemic uncertainty of the Q-function of the policy. This simple technique samples goals that are neither too hard nor too easy for the agent to solve, hence enabling continual improvement. We evaluate our method across 13 multi-goal robotic tasks and 5 navigation tasks, and demonstrate performance gains over current state-of-the-art methods.

Mutual Information Maximization for Robust Plannable Representations Artificial Intelligence

Extending the capabilities of robotics to real-world complex, unstructured environments requires the need of developing better perception systems while maintaining low sample complexity. When dealing with high-dimensional state spaces, current methods are either model-free or model-based based on reconstruction objectives. The sample inefficiency of the former constitutes a major barrier for applying them to the real-world. The later, while they present low sample complexity, they learn latent spaces that need to reconstruct every single detail of the scene. In real environments, the task typically just represents a small fraction of the scene. Reconstruction objectives suffer in such scenarios as they capture all the unnecessary components. In this work, we present MIRO, an information theoretic representational learning algorithm for model-based reinforcement learning. We design a latent space that maximizes the mutual information with the future information while being able to capture all the information needed for planning. We show that our approach is more robust than reconstruction objectives in the presence of distractors and cluttered scenes

Model-Augmented Actor-Critic: Backpropagating through Paths Artificial Intelligence

Current model-based reinforcement learning approaches use the model simply as a learned black-box simulator to augment the data for policy optimization or value function learning. In this paper, we show how to make more effective use of the model by exploiting its differentiability. We construct a policy optimization algorithm that uses the pathwise derivative of the learned model and policy across future timesteps. Instabilities of learning across many timesteps are prevented by using a terminal value function, learning the policy in an actor-critic fashion. Furthermore, we present a derivation on the monotonic improvement of our objective in terms of the gradient error in the model and value function. We show that our approach (i) is consistently more sample efficient than existing state-of-the-art model-based algorithms, (ii) matches the asymptotic performance of model-free algorithms, and (iii) scales to long horizons, a regime where typically past model-based approaches have struggled.

Plan2Vec: Unsupervised Representation Learning by Latent Plans Artificial Intelligence

In this paper we introduce plan2vec, an unsupervised representation learning approach that is inspired by reinforcement learning. Plan2vec constructs a weighted graph on an image dataset using near-neighbor distances, and then extrapolates this local metric to a global embedding by distilling path-integral over planned path. When applied to control, plan2vec offers a way to learn goal-conditioned value estimates that are accurate over long horizons that is both compute and sample efficient. We demonstrate the effectiveness of plan2vec on one simulated and two challenging real-world image datasets. Experimental results show that plan2vec successfully amortizes the planning cost, enabling reactive planning that is linear in memory and computation complexity rather than exhaustive over the entire state space.

CURL: Contrastive Unsupervised Representations for Reinforcement Learning Machine Learning

We present CURL: Contrastive Unsupervised Representations for Reinforcement Learning. CURL extracts high-level features from raw pixels using contrastive learning and performs off-policy control on top of the extracted features. CURL outperforms prior pixel-based methods, both model-based and model-free, on complex tasks in the DeepMind Control Suite and Atari Games showing 2.8x and 1.6x performance gains respectively at the 100K interaction steps benchmark. On the DeepMind Control Suite, CURL is the first image-based algorithm to nearly match the sample-efficiency and performance of methods that use state-based features.

Goal-conditioned Imitation Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

Designing rewards for Reinforcement Learning (RL) is challenging because it needs to convey the desired task, be efficient to optimize, and be easy to compute. The latter is particularly problematic when applying RL to robotics, where detecting whether the desired configuration is reached might require considerable supervision and instrumentation. Furthermore, we are often interested in being able to reach a wide range of configurations, hence setting up a different reward every time might be unpractical. Methods like Hindsight Experience Replay (HER) have recently shown promise to learn policies able to reach many goals, without the need of a reward. Unfortunately, without tricks like resetting to points along the trajectory, HER might require many samples to discover how to reach certain areas of the state-space.

Compositional Plan Vectors

Neural Information Processing Systems

Autonomous agents situated in real-world environments must be able to master large repertoires of skills. While a single short skill can be learned quickly, it would be impractical to learn every task independently. Instead, the agent should share knowledge across behaviors such that each task can be learned efficiently, and such that the resulting model can generalize to new tasks, especially ones that are compositions or subsets of tasks seen previously. A policy conditioned on a goal or demonstration has the potential to share knowledge between tasks if it sees enough diversity of inputs. However, these methods may not generalize to a more complex task at test time.

Geometry-Aware Neural Rendering

Neural Information Processing Systems

Understanding the 3-dimensional structure of the world is a core challenge in computer vision and robotics. Neural rendering approaches learn an implicit 3D model by predicting what a camera would see from an arbitrary viewpoint. We extend existing neural rendering to more complex, higher dimensional scenes than previously possible. We propose Epipolar Cross Attention (ECA), an attention mechanism that leverages the geometry of the scene to perform efficient non-local operations, requiring only $O(n)$ comparisons per spatial dimension instead of $O(n 2)$. We introduce three new simulated datasets inspired by real-world robotics and demonstrate that ECA significantly improves the quantitative and qualitative performance of Generative Query Networks (GQN).

Evaluating Protein Transfer Learning with TAPE

Neural Information Processing Systems

Protein modeling is an increasingly popular area of machine learning research. Semi-supervised learning has emerged as an important paradigm in protein modeling due to the high cost of acquiring supervised protein labels, but the current literature is fragmented when it comes to datasets and standardized evaluation techniques. To facilitate progress in this field, we introduce the Tasks Assessing Protein Embeddings (TAPE), a set of five biologically relevant semi-supervised learning tasks spread across different domains of protein biology. We curate tasks into specific training, validation, and test splits to ensure that each task tests biologically relevant generalization that transfers to real-life scenarios. We benchmark a range of approaches to semi-supervised protein representation learning, which span recent work as well as canonical sequence learning techniques.