Trajectory following is one of the complicated control problems when its dynamics are nonlinear, stochastic and include a large number of parameters. The problem has significant difficulties including a large number of trials required for data collection and a massive volume of computations required to find a closed-loop controller for high dimensional and stochastic domains. For solving this type of problem, if we have an appropriate reward function and dynamics model; finding an optimal control policy is possible by using model-based reinforcement learning and optimal control algorithms. However, defining an accurate dynamics model is not possible for complicated problems. Pieter Abbeel and Andrew Ng recently presented an algorithm that requires only an approximate model and only a small number of real-life trials. This algorithm has broad applicability; however, there are some problems regarding the convergence of the algorithm. In this research, required modifications are presented that provide more powerful assurance for converging to optimal control policy. Also updated algorithm is implemented to evaluate the efficiency of the new algorithm by comparing the acquired results with human expert performance. We are using differential dynamic programming (DDP) as the locally trajectory optimizer, and a 2D dynamics and kinematics simulator is used to evaluate the accuracy of the presented algorithm.
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.
Few-shot Learning aims to learn classifiers for new classes with only a few training examples per class. Existing meta-learning or metric-learning based few-shot learning approaches are limited in handling diverse domains with various number of labels. The meta-learning approaches train a meta learner to predict weights of homogeneous-structured task-specific networks, requiring a uniform number of classes across tasks. The metric-learning approaches learn one task-invariant metric for all the tasks, and they fail if the tasks diverge. We propose to deal with these limitations with meta metric learning. Our meta metric learning approach consists of task-specific learners, that exploit metric learning to handle flexible labels, and a meta learner, that discovers good parameters and gradient decent to specify the metrics in task-specific learners. Thus the proposed model is able to handle unbalanced classes as well as to generate task-specific metrics. We test our approach in the `$k$-shot $N$-way' few-shot learning setting used in previous work and new realistic few-shot setting with diverse multi-domain tasks and flexible label numbers. Experiments show that our approach attains superior performances in both settings.
Deep reinforcement learning suggests the promise of fully automated learning of robotic control policies that directly map sensory inputs to low-level actions. However, applying deep reinforcement learning methods on real-world robots is exceptionally difficult, due both to the sample complexity and, just as importantly, the sensitivity of such methods to hyperparameters. While hyperparameter tuning can be performed in parallel in simulated domains, it is usually impractical to tune hyperparameters directly on real-world robotic platforms, especially legged platforms like quadrupedal robots that can be damaged through extensive trial-and-error learning. In this paper, we develop a stable variant of the soft actor-critic deep reinforcement learning algorithm that requires minimal hyperparameter tuning, while also requiring only a modest number of trials to learn multilayer neural network policies. This algorithm is based on the framework of maximum entropy reinforcement learning, and automatically trades off exploration against exploitation by dynamically and automatically tuning a temperature parameter that determines the stochasticity of the policy. We show that this method achieves state-of-the-art performance on four standard benchmark environments. We then demonstrate that it can be used to learn quadrupedal locomotion gaits on a real-world Minitaur robot, learning to walk from scratch directly in the real world in two hours of training.
Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO) is a highly popular model-free reinforcement learning (RL) approach. However, in continuous state and actions spaces and a Gaussian policy -- common in computer animation and robotics -- PPO is prone to getting stuck in local optima. In this paper, we observe a tendency of PPO to prematurely shrink the exploration variance, which naturally leads to slow progress. Motivated by this, we borrow ideas from CMA-ES, a black-box optimization method designed for intelligent adaptive Gaussian exploration, to derive PPO-CMA, a novel proximal policy optimization approach that can expand the exploration variance on objective function slopes and shrink the variance when close to the optimum. This is implemented by using separate neural networks for policy mean and variance and training the mean and variance in separate passes. Our experiments demonstrate a clear improvement over vanilla PPO in many difficult OpenAI Gym MuJoCo tasks.
To solve complex real-world problems with reinforcement learning, we cannot rely on manually specified reward functions. Instead, we can have humans communicate an objective to the agent directly. In this work, we combine two approaches to learning from human feedback: expert demonstrations and trajectory preferences. We train a deep neural network to model the reward function and use its predicted reward to train an DQN-based deep reinforcement learning agent on 9 Atari games. Our approach beats the imitation learning baseline in 7 games and achieves strictly superhuman performance on 2 games without using game rewards. Additionally, we investigate the goodness of fit of the reward model, present some reward hacking problems, and study the effects of noise in the human labels.
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.
Metric learning learns a metric function from training data to calculate the similarity or distance between samples. From the perspective of feature learning, metric learning essentially learns a new feature space by feature transformation (e.g., Mahalanobis distance metric). However, traditional metric learning algorithms are shallow, which just learn one metric space (feature transformation). Can we further learn a better metric space from the learnt metric space? In other words, can we learn metric progressively and nonlinearly like deep learning by just using the existing metric learning algorithms? To this end, we present a hierarchical metric learning scheme and implement an online deep metric learning framework, namely ODML. Specifically, we take one online metric learning algorithm as a metric layer, followed by a nonlinear layer (i.e., ReLU), and then stack these layers modelled after the deep learning. The proposed ODML enjoys some nice properties, indeed can learn metric progressively and performs superiorly on some datasets. Various experiments with different settings have been conducted to verify these properties of the proposed ODML.
Policy gradient methods are widely used in reinforcement learning algorithms to search for better policies in the parameterized policy space. They do gradient search in the policy space and are known to converge very slowly. Nesterov developed an accelerated gradient search algorithm for convex optimization problems. This has been recently extended for non-convex and also stochastic optimization. We use Nesterov's acceleration for policy gradient search in the well-known actor-critic algorithm and show the convergence using ODE method. We tested this algorithm on a scheduling problem. Here an incoming job is scheduled into one of the four queues based on the queue lengths. We see from experimental results that algorithm using Nesterov's acceleration has significantly better performance compared to algorithm which do not use acceleration. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time Nesterov's acceleration has been used with actor-critic algorithm.
This paper presents a safety-aware learning framework that employs an adaptive model learning method together with barrier certificates for systems with possibly nonstationary agent dynamics. To extract the dynamic structure of the model, we use a sparse optimization technique, and the resulting model will be used in combination with control barrier certificates which constrain feedback controllers only when safety is about to be violated. Under some mild assumptions, solutions to the constrained feedback-controller optimization are guaranteed to be globally optimal, and the monotonic improvement of a feedback controller is thus ensured. In addition, we reformulate the (action-)value function approximation to make any kernel-based nonlinear function estimation method applicable. We then employ a state-of-the-art kernel adaptive filtering technique for the (action-)value function approximation. The resulting framework is verified experimentally on a brushbot, whose dynamics is unknown and highly complex.
Modern communication networks have become very complicated and highly dynamic, which makes them hard to model, predict and control. In this paper, we develop a novel experience-driven approach that can learn to well control a communication network from its own experience rather than an accurate mathematical model, just as a human learns a new skill (such as driving, swimming, etc). Specifically, we, for the first time, propose to leverage emerging Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) for enabling model-free control in communication networks; and present a novel and highly effective DRL-based control framework, DRL-TE, for a fundamental networking problem: Traffic Engineering (TE). The proposed framework maximizes a widely-used utility function by jointly learning network environment and its dynamics, and making decisions under the guidance of powerful Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). We propose two new techniques, TE-aware exploration and actor-critic-based prioritized experience replay, to optimize the general DRL framework particularly for TE. To validate and evaluate the proposed framework, we implemented it in ns-3, and tested it comprehensively with both representative and randomly generated network topologies. Extensive packet-level simulation results show that 1) compared to several widely-used baseline methods, DRL-TE significantly reduces end-to-end delay and consistently improves the network utility, while offering better or comparable throughput; 2) DRL-TE is robust to network changes; and 3) DRL-TE consistently outperforms a state-ofthe-art DRL method (for continuous control), Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (DDPG), which, however, does not offer satisfying performance.