Collaborating Authors

Lee, Honglak

Lipschitz-constrained Unsupervised Skill Discovery Artificial Intelligence

We study the problem of unsupervised skill discovery, whose goal is to learn a set of diverse and useful skills with no external reward. There have been a number of skill discovery methods based on maximizing the mutual information (MI) between skills and states. However, we point out that their MI objectives usually prefer static skills to dynamic ones, which may hinder the application for downstream tasks. To address this issue, we propose Lipschitz-constrained Skill Discovery (LSD), which encourages the agent to discover more diverse, dynamic, and far-reaching skills. Another benefit of LSD is that its learned representation function can be utilized for solving goal-following downstream tasks even in a zero-shot manner - i.e., without further training or complex planning. Through experiments on various MuJoCo robotic locomotion and manipulation environments, we demonstrate that LSD outperforms previous approaches in terms of skill diversity, state space coverage, and performance on seven downstream tasks including the challenging task of following multiple goals on Humanoid. Our code and videos are available at

Environment Generation for Zero-Shot Compositional Reinforcement Learning Artificial Intelligence

Many real-world problems are compositional - solving them requires completing interdependent sub-tasks, either in series or in parallel, that can be represented as a dependency graph. Deep reinforcement learning (RL) agents often struggle to learn such complex tasks due to the long time horizons and sparse rewards. To address this problem, we present Compositional Design of Environments (CoDE), which trains a Generator agent to automatically build a series of compositional tasks tailored to the RL agent's current skill level. This automatic curriculum not only enables the agent to learn more complex tasks than it could have otherwise, but also selects tasks where the agent's performance is weak, enhancing its robustness and ability to generalize zero-shot to unseen tasks at test-time. We analyze why current environment generation techniques are insufficient for the problem of generating compositional tasks, and propose a new algorithm that addresses these issues. Our results assess learning and generalization across multiple compositional tasks, including the real-world problem of learning to navigate and interact with web pages. We learn to generate environments composed of multiple pages or rooms, and train RL agents capable of completing wide-range of complex tasks in those environments. We contribute two new benchmark frameworks for generating compositional tasks, compositional MiniGrid and gMiniWoB for web navigation. CoDE yields 4x higher success rate than the strongest baseline, and demonstrates strong performance of real websites learned on 3500 primitive tasks.

Improving Transferability of Representations via Augmentation-Aware Self-Supervision Artificial Intelligence

Recent unsupervised representation learning methods have shown to be effective in a range of vision tasks by learning representations invariant to data augmentations such as random cropping and color jittering. However, such invariance could be harmful to downstream tasks if they rely on the characteristics of the data augmentations, e.g., location- or color-sensitive. This is not an issue just for unsupervised learning; we found that this occurs even in supervised learning because it also learns to predict the same label for all augmented samples of an instance. To avoid such failures and obtain more generalizable representations, we suggest to optimize an auxiliary self-supervised loss, coined AugSelf, that learns the difference of augmentation parameters (e.g., cropping positions, color adjustment intensities) between two randomly augmented samples. Our intuition is that AugSelf encourages to preserve augmentation-aware information in learned representations, which could be beneficial for their transferability. Furthermore, AugSelf can easily be incorporated into recent state-of-the-art representation learning methods with a negligible additional training cost. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our simple idea consistently improves the transferability of representations learned by supervised and unsupervised methods in various transfer learning scenarios. The code is available at

Successor Feature Landmarks for Long-Horizon Goal-Conditioned Reinforcement Learning Artificial Intelligence

Operating in the real-world often requires agents to learn about a complex environment and apply this understanding to achieve a breadth of goals. This problem, known as goal-conditioned reinforcement learning (GCRL), becomes especially challenging for long-horizon goals. Current methods have tackled this problem by augmenting goal-conditioned policies with graph-based planning algorithms. However, they struggle to scale to large, high-dimensional state spaces and assume access to exploration mechanisms for efficiently collecting training data. In this work, we introduce Successor Feature Landmarks (SFL), a framework for exploring large, high-dimensional environments so as to obtain a policy that is proficient for any goal. SFL leverages the ability of successor features (SF) to capture transition dynamics, using it to drive exploration by estimating state-novelty and to enable high-level planning by abstracting the state-space as a non-parametric landmark-based graph. We further exploit SF to directly compute a goal-conditioned policy for inter-landmark traversal, which we use to execute plans to "frontier" landmarks at the edge of the explored state space. We show in our experiments on MiniGrid and ViZDoom that SFL enables efficient exploration of large, high-dimensional state spaces and outperforms state-of-the-art baselines on long-horizon GCRL tasks.

Contrastive Representation Learning for Rapid Intraoperative Diagnosis of Skull Base Tumors Imaged Using Stimulated Raman Histology Artificial Intelligence

Background: Accurate diagnosis of skull base tumors is essential for providing personalized surgical treatment strategies. Intraoperative diagnosis can be challenging due to tumor diversity and lack of intraoperative pathology resources. Objective: To develop an independent and parallel intraoperative pathology workflow that can provide rapid and accurate skull base tumor diagnoses using label-free optical imaging and artificial intelligence (AI). Method: We used a fiber laser-based, label-free, non-consumptive, high-resolution microscopy method ($<$ 60 sec per 1 $\times$ 1 mm$^\text{2}$), called stimulated Raman histology (SRH), to image a consecutive, multicenter cohort of skull base tumor patients. SRH images were then used to train a convolutional neural network (CNN) model using three representation learning strategies: cross-entropy, self-supervised contrastive learning, and supervised contrastive learning. Our trained CNN models were tested on a held-out, multicenter SRH dataset. Results: SRH was able to image the diagnostic features of both benign and malignant skull base tumors. Of the three representation learning strategies, supervised contrastive learning most effectively learned the distinctive and diagnostic SRH image features for each of the skull base tumor types. In our multicenter testing set, cross-entropy achieved an overall diagnostic accuracy of 91.5%, self-supervised contrastive learning 83.9%, and supervised contrastive learning 96.6%. Our trained model was able to identify tumor-normal margins and detect regions of microscopic tumor infiltration in whole-slide SRH images. Conclusion: SRH with AI models trained using contrastive representation learning can provide rapid and accurate intraoperative diagnosis of skull base tumors.

Shortest-Path Constrained Reinforcement Learning for Sparse Reward Tasks Artificial Intelligence

We propose the k-Shortest-Path (k-SP) constraint: a novel constraint on the agent's trajectory that improves the sample efficiency in sparse-reward MDPs. We show that any optimal policy necessarily satisfies the k-SP constraint. Notably, the k-SP constraint prevents the policy from exploring state-action pairs along the non-k-SP trajectories (e.g., going back and forth). However, in practice, excluding state-action pairs may hinder the convergence of RL algorithms. To overcome this, we propose a novel cost function that penalizes the policy violating SP constraint, instead of completely excluding it. Our numerical experiment in a tabular RL setting demonstrates that the SP constraint can significantly reduce the trajectory space of policy. As a result, our constraint enables more sample efficient learning by suppressing redundant exploration and exploitation. Our experiments on MiniGrid, DeepMind Lab, Atari, and Fetch show that the proposed method significantly improves proximal policy optimization (PPO) and outperforms existing novelty-seeking exploration methods including count-based exploration even in continuous control tasks, indicating that it improves the sample efficiency by preventing the agent from taking redundant actions.

Variational Empowerment as Representation Learning for Goal-Based Reinforcement Learning Artificial Intelligence

Learning to reach goal states and learning diverse skills through mutual information (MI) maximization have been proposed as principled frameworks for self-supervised reinforcement learning, allowing agents to acquire broadly applicable multitask policies with minimal reward engineering. Starting from a simple observation that the standard goal-conditioned RL (GCRL) is encapsulated by the optimization objective of variational empowerment, we discuss how GCRL and MI-based RL can be generalized into a single family of methods, which we name variational GCRL (VGCRL), interpreting variational MI maximization, or variational empowerment, as representation learning methods that acquire functionally-aware state representations for goal reaching. This novel perspective allows us to: (1) derive simple but unexplored variants of GCRL to study how adding small representation capacity can already expand its capabilities; (2) investigate how discriminator function capacity and smoothness determine the quality of discovered skills, or latent goals, through modifying latent dimensionality and applying spectral normalization; (3) adapt techniques such as hindsight experience replay (HER) from GCRL to MI-based RL; and lastly, (4) propose a novel evaluation metric, named latent goal reaching (LGR), for comparing empowerment algorithms with different choices of latent dimensionality and discriminator parameterization. Through principled mathematical derivations and careful experimental studies, our work lays a novel foundation from which to evaluate, analyze, and develop representation learning techniques in goal-based RL.

Adversarial Environment Generation for Learning to Navigate the Web Artificial Intelligence

Learning to autonomously navigate the web is a difficult sequential decision making task. The state and action spaces are large and combinatorial in nature, and websites are dynamic environments consisting of several pages. One of the bottlenecks of training web navigation agents is providing a learnable curriculum of training environments that can cover the large variety of real-world websites. Therefore, we propose using Adversarial Environment Generation (AEG) to generate challenging web environments in which to train reinforcement learning (RL) agents. We provide a new benchmarking environment, gMiniWoB, which enables an RL adversary to use compositional primitives to learn to generate arbitrarily complex websites. To train the adversary, we propose a new technique for maximizing regret using the difference in the scores obtained by a pair of navigator agents. Our results show that our approach significantly outperforms prior methods for minimax regret AEG. The regret objective trains the adversary to design a curriculum of environments that are "just-the-right-challenge" for the navigator agents; our results show that over time, the adversary learns to generate increasingly complex web navigation tasks. The navigator agents trained with our technique learn to complete challenging, high-dimensional web navigation tasks, such as form filling, booking a flight etc. We show that the navigator agent trained with our proposed Flexible b-PAIRED technique significantly outperforms competitive automatic curriculum generation baselines -- including a state-of-the-art RL web navigation approach -- on a set of challenging unseen test environments, and achieves more than 80% success rate on some tasks.

Evolving Reinforcement Learning Algorithms Artificial Intelligence

We propose a method for meta-learning reinforcement learning algorithms by searching over the space of computational graphs which compute the loss function for a value-based model-free RL agent to optimize. The learned algorithms are domain-agnostic and can generalize to new environments not seen during training. Our method can both learn from scratch and bootstrap off known existing algorithms, like DQN, enabling interpretable modifications which improve performance. Bootstrapped from DQN, we highlight two learned algorithms which obtain good generalization performance over other classical control tasks, gridworld type tasks, and Atari games. The analysis of the learned algorithm behavior shows resemblance to recently proposed RL algorithms that address overestimation in value-based methods. Designing new deep reinforcement learning algorithms that can efficiently solve across a wide variety of problems generally requires a tremendous amount of manual effort. Learning to design reinforcement learning algorithms or even small sub-components of algorithms would help ease this burden and could result in better algorithms than researchers could design manually. Our work might then shift from designing these algorithms manually into designing the language and optimization methods for developing these algorithms automatically. Reinforcement learning algorithms can be viewed as a procedure that maps an agent's experience to a policy that obtains high cumulative reward over the course of training. We formulate the problem of training an agent as one of meta-learning: an outer loop searches over the space of computational graphs or programs that compute the objective function for the agent to minimize and an inner loop performs the updates using the learned loss function. The objective of the outer loop is to maximize the training return of the inner loop algorithm.

Text-to-Image Generation Grounded by Fine-Grained User Attention Artificial Intelligence

Localized Narratives is a dataset with detailed natural language descriptions of images paired with mouse traces that provide a sparse, fine-grained visual grounding for phrases. We propose TReCS, a sequential model that exploits this grounding to generate images. TReCS uses descriptions to retrieve segmentation masks and predict object labels aligned with mouse traces. These alignments are used to select and position masks to generate a fully covered segmentation canvas; the final image is produced by a segmentation-to-image generator using this canvas. This multi-step, retrieval-based approach outperforms existing direct text-to-image generation models on both automatic metrics and human evaluations: overall, its generated images are more photo-realistic and better match descriptions.