Pritzel, Alexander


Fast deep reinforcement learning using online adjustments from the past

Neural Information Processing Systems

We propose Ephemeral Value Adjusments (EVA): a means of allowing deep reinforcement learning agents to rapidly adapt to experience in their replay buffer. EVA shifts the value predicted by a neural network with an estimate of the value function found by prioritised sweeping over experience tuples from the replay buffer near the current state. EVA combines a number of recent ideas around combining episodic memory-like structures into reinforcement learning agents: slot-based storage, content-based retrieval, and memory-based planning. We show that EVA is performant on a demonstration task and Atari games.


Fast deep reinforcement learning using online adjustments from the past

Neural Information Processing Systems

We propose Ephemeral Value Adjusments (EVA): a means of allowing deep reinforcement learning agents to rapidly adapt to experience in their replay buffer. EVA shifts the value predicted by a neural network with an estimate of the value function found by prioritised sweeping over experience tuples from the replay buffer near the current state. EVA combines a number of recent ideas around combining episodic memory-like structures into reinforcement learning agents: slot-based storage, content-based retrieval, and memory-based planning. We show that EVA is performant on a demonstration task and Atari games.


Meta-Learning by the Baldwin Effect

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The scope of the Baldwin effect was recently called into question by two papers that closely examined the seminal work of Hinton and Nowlan. To this date there has been no demonstration of its necessity in empirically challenging tasks. Here we show that the Baldwin effect is capable of evolving few-shot supervised and reinforcement learning mechanisms, by shaping the hyperparameters and the initial parameters of deep learning algorithms. Furthermore it can genetically accommodate strong learning biases on the same set of problems as a recent machine learning algorithm called MAML "Model Agnostic Meta-Learning" which uses second-order gradients instead of evolution to learn a set of reference parameters (initial weights) that can allow rapid adaptation to tasks sampled from a distribution. Whilst in simple cases MAML is more data efficient than the Baldwin effect, the Baldwin effect is more general in that it does not require gradients to be backpropagated to the reference parameters or hyperparameters, and permits effectively any number of gradient updates in the inner loop. The Baldwin effect learns strong learning dependent biases, rather than purely genetically accommodating fixed behaviours in a learning independent manner.


Generative Temporal Models with Spatial Memory for Partially Observed Environments

arXiv.org Machine Learning

In model-based reinforcement learning, generative and temporal models of environments can be leveraged to boost agent performance, either by tuning the agent's representations during training or via use as part of an explicit planning mechanism. However, their application in practice has been limited to simplistic environments, due to the difficulty of training such models in larger, potentially partially-observed and 3D environments. In this work we introduce a novel action-conditioned generative model of such challenging environments. The model features a non-parametric spatial memory system in which we store learned, disentangled representations of the environment. Low-dimensional spatial updates are computed using a state-space model that makes use of knowledge on the prior dynamics of the moving agent, and high-dimensional visual observations are modelled with a Variational Auto-Encoder. The result is a scalable architecture capable of performing coherent predictions over hundreds of time steps across a range of partially observed 2D and 3D environments.


Memory-based Parameter Adaptation

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Deep neural networks have excelled on a wide range of problems, from vision to language and game playing. Neural networks very gradually incorporate information into weights as they process data, requiring very low learning rates. If the training distribution shifts, the network is slow to adapt, and when it does adapt, it typically performs badly on the training distribution before the shift. Our method, Memory-based Parameter Adaptation, stores examples in memory and then uses a context-based lookup to directly modify the weights of a neural network. Much higher learning rates can be used for this local adaptation, reneging the need for many iterations over similar data before good predictions can be made. As our method is memory-based, it alleviates several shortcomings of neural networks, such as catastrophic forgetting, fast, stable acquisition of new knowledge, learning with an imbalanced class labels, and fast learning during evaluation. We demonstrate this on a range of supervised tasks: large-scale image classification and language modelling.


Simple and Scalable Predictive Uncertainty Estimation using Deep Ensembles

Neural Information Processing Systems

Deep neural networks (NNs) are powerful black box predictors that have recently achieved impressive performance on a wide spectrum of tasks. Quantifying predictive uncertainty in NNs is a challenging and yet unsolved problem. Bayesian NNs, which learn a distribution over weights, are currently the state-of-the-art for estimating predictive uncertainty; however these require significant modifications to the training procedure and are computationally expensive compared to standard (non-Bayesian) NNs. We propose an alternative to Bayesian NNs that is simple to implement, readily parallelizable, requires very little hyperparameter tuning, and yields high quality predictive uncertainty estimates. Through a series of experiments on classification and regression benchmarks, we demonstrate that our method produces well-calibrated uncertainty estimates which are as good or better than approximate Bayesian NNs. To assess robustness to dataset shift, we evaluate the predictive uncertainty on test examples from known and unknown distributions, and show that our method is able to express higher uncertainty on out-of-distribution examples. We demonstrate the scalability of our method by evaluating predictive uncertainty estimates on ImageNet.


Simple and Scalable Predictive Uncertainty Estimation using Deep Ensembles

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Deep neural networks (NNs) are powerful black box predictors that have recently achieved impressive performance on a wide spectrum of tasks. Quantifying predictive uncertainty in NNs is a challenging and yet unsolved problem. Bayesian NNs, which learn a distribution over weights, are currently the state-of-the-art for estimating predictive uncertainty; however these require significant modifications to the training procedure and are computationally expensive compared to standard (non-Bayesian) NNs. We propose an alternative to Bayesian NNs that is simple to implement, readily parallelizable, requires very little hyperparameter tuning, and yields high quality predictive uncertainty estimates. Through a series of experiments on classification and regression benchmarks, we demonstrate that our method produces well-calibrated uncertainty estimates which are as good or better than approximate Bayesian NNs. To assess robustness to dataset shift, we evaluate the predictive uncertainty on test examples from known and unknown distributions, and show that our method is able to express higher uncertainty on out-of-distribution examples. We demonstrate the scalability of our method by evaluating predictive uncertainty estimates on ImageNet.


DARLA: Improving Zero-Shot Transfer in Reinforcement Learning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Domain adaptation is an important open problem in deep reinforcement learning (RL). In many scenarios of interest data is hard to obtain, so agents may learn a source policy in a setting where data is readily available, with the hope that it generalises well to the target domain. We propose a new multi-stage RL agent, DARLA (DisentAngled Representation Learning Agent), which learns to see before learning to act. DARLA's vision is based on learning a disentangled representation of the observed environment. Once DARLA can see, it is able to acquire source policies that are robust to many domain shifts - even with no access to the target domain. DARLA significantly outperforms conventional baselines in zero-shot domain adaptation scenarios, an effect that holds across a variety of RL environments (Jaco arm, DeepMind Lab) and base RL algorithms (DQN, A3C and EC).


Neural Episodic Control

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Deep reinforcement learning methods attain super-human performance in a wide range of environments. Such methods are grossly inefficient, often taking orders of magnitudes more data than humans to achieve reasonable performance. We propose Neural Episodic Control: a deep reinforcement learning agent that is able to rapidly assimilate new experiences and act upon them. Our agent uses a semi-tabular representation of the value function: a buffer of past experience containing slowly changing state representations and rapidly updated estimates of the value function. We show across a wide range of environments that our agent learns significantly faster than other state-of-the-art, general purpose deep reinforcement learning agents.


Deep Exploration via Bootstrapped DQN

Neural Information Processing Systems

Efficient exploration remains a major challenge for reinforcement learning (RL). Common dithering strategies for exploration, such as epsilon-greedy, do not carry out temporally-extended (or deep) exploration; this can lead to exponentially larger data requirements. However, most algorithms for statistically efficient RL are not computationally tractable in complex environments. Randomized value functions offer a promising approach to efficient exploration with generalization, but existing algorithms are not compatible with nonlinearly parameterized value functions. As a first step towards addressing such contexts we develop bootstrapped DQN. We demonstrate that bootstrapped DQN can combine deep exploration with deep neural networks for exponentially faster learning than any dithering strategy. In the Arcade Learning Environment bootstrapped DQN substantially improves learning speed and cumulative performance across most games.