Learning how to act when there are many available actions in each state is a challenging task for Reinforcement Learning (RL) agents, especially when many of the actions are redundant or irrelevant. In such cases, it is sometimes easier to learn which actions not to take. In this work, we propose the Action-Elimination Deep Q-Network (AE-DQN) architecture that combines a Deep RL algorithm with an Action Elimination Network (AEN) that eliminates sub-optimal actions. The AEN is trained to predict invalid actions, supervised by an external elimination signal provided by the environment. Simulations demonstrate a considerable speedup and added robustness over vanilla DQN in text-based games with over a thousand discrete actions.
Continual learning aims to improve the ability of modern learning systems to deal with non-stationary distributions, typically by attempting to learn a series of tasks sequentially. Prior art in the field has largely considered supervised or reinforcement learning tasks, and often assumes full knowledge of task labels and boundaries. In this work, we propose an approach (CURL) to tackle a more general problem that we will refer to as unsupervised continual learning. The focus is on learning representations without any knowledge about task identity, and we explore scenarios when there are abrupt changes between tasks, smooth transitions from one task to another, or even when the data is shuffled. The proposed approach performs task inference directly within the model, is able to dynamically expand to capture new concepts over its lifetime, and incorporates additional rehearsal-based techniques to deal with catastrophic forgetting. We demonstrate the efficacy of CURL in an unsupervised learning setting with MNIST and Omniglot, where the lack of labels ensures no information is leaked about the task. Further, we demonstrate strong performance compared to prior art in an i.i.d setting, or when adapting the technique to supervised tasks such as incremental class learning.
In this paper, we investigate the challenges of using reinforcement learning agents for question-answering over knowledge graphs for real-world applications. We examine the performance metrics used by state-of-the-art systems and determine that they are inadequate for such settings. More specifically, they do not evaluate the systems correctly for situations when there is no answer available and thus agents optimized for these metrics are poor at modeling confidence. We introduce a simple new performance metric for evaluating question-answering agents that is more representative of practical usage conditions, and optimize for this metric by extending the binary reward structure used in prior work to a ternary reward structure which also rewards an agent for not answering a question rather than giving an incorrect answer. We show that this can drastically improve the precision of answered questions while only not answering a limited number of previously correctly answered questions. Employing a supervised learning strategy using depth-first-search paths to bootstrap the reinforcement learning algorithm further improves performance.
Deep reinforcement learning (RL) has achieved many recent successes, yet experiment turn-around time remains a key bottleneck in research and in practice. We investigate how to optimize existing deep RL algorithms for modern computers, specifically for a combination of CPUs and GPUs. We confirm that both policy gradient and Q-value learning algorithms can be adapted to learn using many parallel simulator instances. We further find it possible to train using batch sizes considerably larger than are standard, without negatively affecting sample complexity or final performance. We leverage these facts to build a unified framework for parallelization that dramatically hastens experiments in both classes of algorithm. All neural network computations use GPUs, accelerating both data collection and training. Our results include using an entire DGX-1 to learn successful strategies in Atari games in mere minutes, using both synchronous and asynchronous algorithms.
Most Deep Reinforcement Learning (Deep RL) algorithms require a prohibitively large number of training samples for learning complex tasks. Many recent works on speeding up Deep RL have focused on distributed training and simulation. While distributed training is often done on the GPU, simulation is not. In this work, we propose using GPU-accelerated RL simulations as an alternative to CPU ones. Using NVIDIA Flex, a GPU-based physics engine, we show promising speed-ups of learning various continuous-control, locomotion tasks. With one GPU and CPU core, we are able to train the Humanoid running task in less than 20 minutes, using 10-1000x fewer CPU cores than previous works. We also demonstrate the scalability of our simulator to multi-GPU settings to train more challenging locomotion tasks.
Recently it has shown that the policy-gradient methods for reinforcement learning have been utilized to train deep end-to-end systems on natural language processing tasks. What's more, with the complexity of understanding image content and diverse ways of describing image content in natural language, image captioning has been a challenging problem to deal with. To the best of our knowledge, most state-of-the-art methods follow a pattern of sequential model, such as recurrent neural networks (RNN). However, in this paper, we propose a novel architecture for image captioning with deep reinforcement learning to optimize image captioning tasks. We utilize two networks called "policy network" and "value network" to collaboratively generate the captions of images. The experiments are conducted on Microsoft COCO dataset, and the experimental results have verified the effectiveness of the proposed method.
Deep reinforcement learning has recently shown many impressive successes. However, one major obstacle towards applying such methods to real-world problems is their lack of data-efficiency. To this end, we propose the Bottleneck Simulator: a model-based reinforcement learning method which combines a learned, factorized transition model of the environment with rollout simulations to learn an effective policy from few examples. The learned transition model employs an abstract, discrete (bottleneck) state, which increases sample efficiency by reducing the number of model parameters and by exploiting structural properties of the environment. We provide a mathematical analysis of the Bottleneck Simulator in terms of fixed points of the learned policy, which reveals how performance is affected by four distinct sources of error: an error related to the abstract space structure, an error related to the transition model estimation variance, an error related to the transition model estimation bias, and an error related to the transition model class bias. Finally, we evaluate the Bottleneck Simulator on two natural language processing tasks: a text adventure game and a real-world, complex dialogue response selection task. On both tasks, the Bottleneck Simulator yields excellent performance beating competing approaches.
We introduce an approach for deep reinforcement learning (RL) that improves upon the efficiency, generalization capacity, and interpretability of conventional approaches through structured perception and relational reasoning. It uses self-attention to iteratively reason about the relations between entities in a scene and to guide a model-free policy. Our results show that in a novel navigation and planning task called Box-World, our agent finds interpretable solutions that improve upon baselines in terms of sample complexity, ability to generalize to more complex scenes than experienced during training, and overall performance. In the StarCraft II Learning Environment, our agent achieves state-of-the-art performance on six mini-games -- surpassing human grandmaster performance on four. By considering architectural inductive biases, our work opens new directions for overcoming important, but stubborn, challenges in deep RL.
We study active object tracking, where a tracker takes as input the visual observation (i.e., frame sequence) and produces the camera control signal (e.g., move forward, turn left, etc.). Conventional methods tackle the tracking and the camera control separately, which is challenging to tune jointly. It also incurs many human efforts for labeling and many expensive trial-and-errors in realworld. To address these issues, we propose, in this paper, an end-to-end solution via deep reinforcement learning, where a ConvNet-LSTM function approximator is adopted for the direct frame-toaction prediction. We further propose an environment augmentation technique and a customized reward function, which are crucial for a successful training. The tracker trained in simulators (ViZDoom, Unreal Engine) shows good generalization in the case of unseen object moving path, unseen object appearance, unseen background, and distracting object. It can restore tracking when occasionally losing the target. With the experiments over the VOT dataset, we also find that the tracking ability, obtained solely from simulators, can potentially transfer to real-world scenarios.
This paper proposes a Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithm to synthesize policies for a Markov Decision Process (MDP), such that a linear time property is satisfied. We convert the property into a Limit Deterministic Buchi Automaton (LDBA), then construct a product MDP between the automaton and the original MDP. A reward function is then assigned to the states of the product automaton, according to accepting conditions of the LDBA. With this reward function, our algorithm synthesizes a policy that satisfies the linear time property: as such, the policy synthesis procedure is "constrained" by the given specification. Additionally, we show that the RL procedure sets up an online value iteration method to calculate the maximum probability of satisfying the given property, at any given state of the MDP - a convergence proof for the procedure is provided. Finally, the performance of the algorithm is evaluated via a set of numerical examples. We observe an improvement of one order of magnitude in the number of iterations required for the synthesis compared to existing approaches.
In this paper we discuss policy iteration methods for approximate solution of a finite-state discounted Markov decision problem, with a focus on feature-based aggregation methods and their connection with deep reinforcement learning schemes. We introduce features of the states of the original problem, and we formulate a smaller "aggregate" Markov decision problem, whose states relate to the features. The optimal cost function of the aggregate problem, a nonlinear function of the features, serves as an architecture for approximation in value space of the optimal cost function or the cost functions of policies of the original problem. We discuss properties and possible implementations of this type of aggregation, including a new approach to approximate policy iteration. In this approach the policy improvement operation combines feature-based aggregation with reinforcement learning based on deep neural networks, which is used to obtain the needed features. We argue that the cost function of a policy may be approximated much more accurately by the nonlinear function of the features provided by aggregation, than by the linear function of the features provided by deep reinforcement learning, thereby potentially leading to more effective policy improvement.