Keywords: [ Reinforcement Learning and Planning ] [ Deep RL ]
Exploration in reinforcement learning is, in general, a challenging problem. A common technique to make learning easier is providing demonstrations from a human supervisor, but such demonstrations can be expensive and time-consuming to acquire. In this work, we study a more tractable class of reinforcement learning problems defined simply by examples of successful outcome states, which can be much easier to provide while still making the exploration problem more tractable. In this problem setting, the reward function can be obtained automatically by training a classifier to categorize states as successful or not. However, as we will show, this requires the classifier to make uncertainty-aware predictions that are very difficult using standard techniques for training deep networks. To address this, we propose a novel mechanism for obtaining calibrated uncertainty based on an amortized technique for computing the normalized maximum likelihood (NML) distribution, leveraging tools from meta-learning to make this distribution tractable. We show that the resulting algorithm has a number of intriguing connections to both count-based exploration methods and prior algorithms for learning reward functions, while also providing more effective guidance towards the goal. We demonstrate that our algorithm solves a number of challenging navigation and robotic manipulation tasks which prove difficult or impossible for prior methods.