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Multi-Agent Advisor Q-Learning

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In the last decade, there have been significant advances in multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) but there are still numerous challenges, such as high sample complexity and slow convergence to stable policies, that need to be overcome before wide-spread deployment is possible. However, many real-world environments already, in practice, deploy sub-optimal or heuristic approaches for generating policies. An interesting question that arises is how to best use such approaches as advisors to help improve reinforcement learning in multi-agent domains. In this paper, we provide a principled framework for incorporating action recommendations from online suboptimal advisors in multi-agent settings. We describe the problem of ADvising Multiple Intelligent Reinforcement Agents (ADMIRAL) in nonrestrictive general-sum stochastic game environments and present two novel Q-learning based algorithms: ADMIRAL - Decision Making (ADMIRAL-DM) and ADMIRAL - Advisor Evaluation (ADMIRAL-AE), which allow us to improve learning by appropriately incorporating advice from an advisor (ADMIRAL-DM), and evaluate the effectiveness of an advisor (ADMIRAL-AE). We analyze the algorithms theoretically and provide fixed point guarantees regarding their learning in general-sum stochastic games. Furthermore, extensive experiments illustrate that these algorithms: can be used in a variety of environments, have performances that compare favourably to other related baselines, can scale to large state-action spaces, and are robust to poor advice from advisors.


Dynamics-Aware Comparison of Learned Reward Functions

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The ability to learn reward functions plays an important role in enabling the deployment of intelligent agents in the real world. However, comparing reward functions, for example as a means of evaluating reward learning methods, presents a challenge. Reward functions are typically compared by considering the behavior of optimized policies, but this approach conflates deficiencies in the reward function with those of the policy search algorithm used to optimize it. To address this challenge, Gleave et al. (2020) propose the Equivalent-Policy Invariant Comparison (EPIC) distance. EPIC avoids policy optimization, but in doing so requires computing reward values at transitions that may be impossible under the system dynamics. This is problematic for learned reward functions because it entails evaluating them outside of their training distribution, resulting in inaccurate reward values that we show can render EPIC ineffective at comparing rewards. To address this problem, we propose the Dynamics-Aware Reward Distance (DARD), a new reward pseudometric. DARD uses an approximate transition model of the environment to transform reward functions into a form that allows for comparisons that are invariant to reward shaping while only evaluating reward functions on transitions close to their training distribution. Experiments in simulated physical domains demonstrate that DARD enables reliable reward comparisons without policy optimization and is significantly more predictive than baseline methods of downstream policy performance when dealing with learned reward functions.


Challenges of Artificial Intelligence -- From Machine Learning and Computer Vision to Emotional Intelligence

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a part of everyday conversation and our lives. It is considered as the new electricity that is revolutionizing the world. AI is heavily invested in both industry and academy. However, there is also a lot of hype in the current AI debate. AI based on so-called deep learning has achieved impressive results in many problems, but its limits are already visible. AI has been under research since the 1940s, and the industry has seen many ups and downs due to over-expectations and related disappointments that have followed. The purpose of this book is to give a realistic picture of AI, its history, its potential and limitations. We believe that AI is a helper, not a ruler of humans. We begin by describing what AI is and how it has evolved over the decades. After fundamentals, we explain the importance of massive data for the current mainstream of artificial intelligence. The most common representations for AI, methods, and machine learning are covered. In addition, the main application areas are introduced. Computer vision has been central to the development of AI. The book provides a general introduction to computer vision, and includes an exposure to the results and applications of our own research. Emotions are central to human intelligence, but little use has been made in AI. We present the basics of emotional intelligence and our own research on the topic. We discuss super-intelligence that transcends human understanding, explaining why such achievement seems impossible on the basis of present knowledge,and how AI could be improved. Finally, a summary is made of the current state of AI and what to do in the future. In the appendix, we look at the development of AI education, especially from the perspective of contents at our own university.


Abstractions of General Reinforcement Learning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The field of artificial intelligence (AI) is devoted to the creation of artificial decision-makers that can perform (at least) on par with the human counterparts on a domain of interest. Unlike the agents in traditional AI, the agents in artificial general intelligence (AGI) are required to replicate human intelligence in almost every domain of interest. Moreover, an AGI agent should be able to achieve this without (virtually any) further changes, retraining, or fine-tuning of the parameters. The real world is non-stationary, non-ergodic, and non-Markovian: we, humans, can neither revisit our past nor are the most recent observations sufficient statistics. Yet, we excel at a variety of complex tasks. Many of these tasks require longterm planning. We can associate this success to our natural faculty to abstract away task-irrelevant information from our overwhelming sensory experience. We make task-specific mental models of the world without much effort. Due to this ability to abstract, we can plan on a significantly compact representation of a task without much loss of performance. Not only this, we also abstract our actions to produce high-level plans: the level of action-abstraction can be anywhere between small muscle movements to a mental notion of "doing an action". It is natural to assume that any AGI agent competing with humans (at every plausible domain) should also have these abilities to abstract its experiences and actions. This thesis is an inquiry into the existence of such abstractions which aid efficient planing for a wide range of domains, and most importantly, these abstractions come with some optimality guarantees.


Optimal discharge of patients from intensive care via a data-driven policy learning framework

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Clinical decision support tools rooted in machine learning and optimization can provide significant value to healthcare providers, including through better management of intensive care units. In particular, it is important that the patient discharge task addresses the nuanced trade-off between decreasing a patient's length of stay (and associated hospitalization costs) and the risk of readmission or even death following the discharge decision. This work introduces an end-to-end general framework for capturing this trade-off to recommend optimal discharge timing decisions given a patient's electronic health records. A data-driven approach is used to derive a parsimonious, discrete state space representation that captures a patient's physiological condition. Based on this model and a given cost function, an infinite-horizon discounted Markov decision process is formulated and solved numerically to compute an optimal discharge policy, whose value is assessed using off-policy evaluation strategies. Extensive numerical experiments are performed to validate the proposed framework using real-life intensive care unit patient data.


Enforcing and Discovering Structure in Machine Learning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The world is structured in countless ways. It may be prudent to enforce corresponding structural properties to a learning algorithm's solution, such as incorporating prior beliefs, natural constraints, or causal structures. Doing so may translate to faster, more accurate, and more flexible models, which may directly relate to real-world impact. In this dissertation, we consider two different research areas that concern structuring a learning algorithm's solution: when the structure is known and when it has to be discovered.


Search in Imperfect Information Games

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

From the very dawn of the field, search with value functions was a fundamental concept of computer games research. Turing's chess algorithm from 1950 was able to think two moves ahead, and Shannon's work on chess from $1950$ includes an extensive section on evaluation functions to be used within a search. Samuel's checkers program from 1959 already combines search and value functions that are learned through self-play and bootstrapping. TD-Gammon improves upon those ideas and uses neural networks to learn those complex value functions -- only to be again used within search. The combination of decision-time search and value functions has been present in the remarkable milestones where computers bested their human counterparts in long standing challenging games -- DeepBlue for Chess and AlphaGo for Go. Until recently, this powerful framework of search aided with (learned) value functions has been limited to perfect information games. As many interesting problems do not provide the agent perfect information of the environment, this was an unfortunate limitation. This thesis introduces the reader to sound search for imperfect information games.


Multi-Agent Advisor Q-Learning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In the last decade, there have been significant advances in multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) but there are still numerous challenges, such as high sample complexity and slow convergence to stable policies, that need to be overcome before wide-spread deployment is possible. However, many real-world environments already, in practice, deploy sub-optimal or heuristic approaches for generating policies. An interesting question which arises is how to best use such approaches as advisors to help improve reinforcement learning in multi-agent domains. In this paper, we provide a principled framework for incorporating action recommendations from online sub-optimal advisors in multi-agent settings. We describe the problem of ADvising Multiple Intelligent Reinforcement Agents (ADMIRAL) in nonrestrictive general-sum stochastic game environments and present two novel Q-learning based algorithms: ADMIRAL - Decision Making (ADMIRAL-DM) and ADMIRAL - Advisor Evaluation (ADMIRAL-AE), which allow us to improve learning by appropriately incorporating advice from an advisor (ADMIRAL-DM), and evaluate the effectiveness of an advisor (ADMIRAL-AE). We analyze the algorithms theoretically and provide fixed-point guarantees regarding their learning in general-sum stochastic games. Furthermore, extensive experiments illustrate that these algorithms: can be used in a variety of environments, have performances that compare favourably to other related baselines, can scale to large state-action spaces, and are robust to poor advice from advisors.


Green Simulation Assisted Policy Gradient to Accelerate Stochastic Process Control

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

This study is motivated by the critical challenges in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing, including high complexity, high uncertainty, and very limited process data. Each experiment run is often very expensive. To support the optimal and robust process control, we propose a general green simulation assisted policy gradient (GS-PG) framework for both online and offline learning settings. Basically, to address the key limitations of state-of-art reinforcement learning (RL), such as sample inefficiency and low reliability, we create a mixture likelihood ratio based policy gradient estimation that can leverage on the information from historical experiments conducted under different inputs, including process model coefficients and decision policy parameters. Then, to accelerate the learning of optimal and robust policy, we further propose a variance reduction based sample selection method that allows GS-PG to intelligently select and reuse most relevant historical trajectories. The selection rule automatically updates the samples to be reused during the learning of process mechanisms and the search for optimal policy. Our theoretical and empirical studies demonstrate that the proposed framework can perform better than the state-of-art policy gradient approach and accelerate the optimal robust process control for complex stochastic systems under high uncertainty.


Temporal Abstraction in Reinforcement Learning with the Successor Representation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Reasoning at multiple levels of temporal abstraction is one of the key attributes of intelligence. In reinforcement learning, this is often modeled through temporally extended courses of actions called options. Options allow agents to make predictions and to operate at different levels of abstraction within an environment. Nevertheless, approaches based on the options framework often start with the assumption that a reasonable set of options is known beforehand. When this is not the case, there are no definitive answers for which options one should consider. In this paper, we argue that the successor representation (SR), which encodes states based on the pattern of state visitation that follows them, can be seen as a natural substrate for the discovery and use of temporal abstractions. To support our claim, we take a big picture view of recent results, showing how the SR can be used to discover options that facilitate either temporally-extended exploration or planning. We cast these results as instantiations of a general framework for option discovery in which the agent's representation is used to identify useful options, which are then used to further improve its representation. This results in a virtuous, never-ending, cycle in which both the representation and the options are constantly refined based on each other. Beyond option discovery itself, we discuss how the SR allows us to augment a set of options into a combinatorially large counterpart without additional learning. This is achieved through the combination of previously learned options. Our empirical evaluation focuses on options discovered for temporally-extended exploration and on the use of the SR to combine them. The results of our experiments shed light on design decisions involved in the definition of options and demonstrate the synergy of different methods based on the SR, such as eigenoptions and the option keyboard.