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Reinforcement Learning and Planning 1

Moderator: Karol Hausman


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Tue 20 July 7:00 - 7:20 PDT

World Model as a Graph: Learning Latent Landmarks for Planning

Lunjun Zhang · Ge Yang · Bradly Stadie

Planning, the ability to analyze the structure of a problem in the large and decompose it into interrelated subproblems, is a hallmark of human intelligence. While deep reinforcement learning (RL) has shown great promise for solving relatively straightforward control tasks, it remains an open problem how to best incorporate planning into existing deep RL paradigms to handle increasingly complex environments. One prominent framework, Model-Based RL, learns a world model and plans using step-by-step virtual rollouts. This type of world model quickly diverges from reality when the planning horizon increases, thus struggling at long-horizon planning. How can we learn world models that endow agents with the ability to do temporally extended reasoning? In this work, we propose to learn graph-structured world models composed of sparse, multi-step transitions. We devise a novel algorithm to learn latent landmarks that are scattered (in terms of reachability) across the goal space as the nodes on the graph. In this same graph, the edges are the reachability estimates distilled from Q-functions. On a variety of high-dimensional continuous control tasks ranging from robotic manipulation to navigation, we demonstrate that our method, named L3P, significantly outperforms prior work, and is oftentimes the only method capable of leveraging both the robustness of model-free RL and generalization of graph-search algorithms. We believe our work is an important step towards scalable planning in reinforcement learning.

Tue 20 July 7:20 - 7:25 PDT

Revisiting Rainbow: Promoting more insightful and inclusive deep reinforcement learning research

Johan Obando Ceron · Pablo Samuel Castro

Since the introduction of DQN, a vast majority of reinforcement learning research has focused on reinforcement learning with deep neural networks as function approximators. New methods are typically evaluated on a set of environments that have now become standard, such as Atari 2600 games. While these benchmarks help standardize evaluation, their computational cost has the unfortunate side effect of widening the gap between those with ample access to computational resources, and those without. In this work we argue that, despite the community’s emphasis on large-scale environments, the traditional small-scale environments can still yield valuable scientific insights and can help reduce the barriers to entry for underprivileged communities. To substantiate our claims, we empirically revisit the paper which introduced the Rainbow algorithm [Hessel et al., 2018] and present some new insights into the algorithms used by Rainbow.

Tue 20 July 7:25 - 7:30 PDT

Deep Reinforcement Learning amidst Continual Structured Non-Stationarity

Annie Xie · James Harrison · Chelsea Finn

As humans, our goals and our environment are persistently changing throughout our lifetime based on our experiences, actions, and internal and external drives. In contrast, typical reinforcement learning problem set-ups consider decision processes that are stationary across episodes. Can we develop reinforcement learning algorithms that can cope with the persistent change in the former, more realistic problem settings? While on-policy algorithms such as policy gradients in principle can be extended to non-stationary settings, the same cannot be said for more efficient off-policy algorithms that replay past experiences when learning. In this work, we formalize this problem setting, and draw upon ideas from the online learning and probabilistic inference literature to derive an off-policy RL algorithm that can reason about and tackle such lifelong non-stationarity. Our method leverages latent variable models to learn a representation of the environment from current and past experiences, and performs off-policy RL with this representation. We further introduce several simulation environments that exhibit lifelong non-stationarity, and empirically find that our approach substantially outperforms approaches that do not reason about environment shift.

Tue 20 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT

Offline Reinforcement Learning with Pseudometric Learning

Robert Dadashi · Shideh Rezaeifar · Nino Vieillard · Léonard Hussenot · Olivier Pietquin · Matthieu Geist

Offline Reinforcement Learning methods seek to learn a policy from logged transitions of an environment, without any interaction. In the presence of function approximation, and under the assumption of limited coverage of the state-action space of the environment, it is necessary to enforce the policy to visit state-action pairs close to the support of logged transitions. In this work, we propose an iterative procedure to learn a pseudometric (closely related to bisimulation metrics) from logged transitions, and use it to define this notion of closeness. We show its convergence and extend it to the function approximation setting. We then use this pseudometric to define a new lookup based bonus in an actor-critic algorithm: PLOFF. This bonus encourages the actor to stay close, in terms of the defined pseudometric, to the support of logged transitions. Finally, we evaluate the method on hand manipulation and locomotion tasks.

Tue 20 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT

EMaQ: Expected-Max Q-Learning Operator for Simple Yet Effective Offline and Online RL

Seyed Kamyar Seyed Ghasemipour · Dale Schuurmans · Shixiang Gu

Off-policy reinforcement learning (RL) holds the promise of sample-efficient learning of decision-making policies by leveraging past experience. However, in the offline RL setting -- where a fixed collection of interactions are provided and no further interactions are allowed -- it has been shown that standard off-policy RL methods can significantly underperform. In this work, we closely investigate an important simplification of BCQ (Fujimoto et al., 2018) -- a prior approach for offline RL -- removing a heuristic design choice. Importantly, in contrast to their original theoretical considerations, we derive this simplified algorithm through the introduction of a novel backup operator, Expected-Max Q-Learning (EMaQ), which is more closely related to the resulting practical algorithm. Specifically, in addition to the distribution support, EMaQ explicitly considers the number of samples and the proposal distribution, allowing us to derive new sub-optimality bounds. In the offline RL setting -- the main focus of this work -- EMaQ matches and outperforms prior state-of-the-art in the D4RL benchmarks (Fu et al., 2020). In the online RL setting, we demonstrate that EMaQ is competitive with Soft Actor Critic (SAC). The key contributions of our empirical findings are demonstrating the importance of careful generative model design for estimating behavior policies, and an intuitive notion of complexity for offline RL problems. With its simple interpretation and fewer moving parts, such as no explicit function approximator representing the policy, EMaQ serves as a strong yet easy to implement baseline for future work.

Tue 20 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT

Decision-Making Under Selective Labels: Optimal Finite-Domain Policies and Beyond

Dennis Wei

Selective labels are a common feature of high-stakes decision-making applications, referring to the lack of observed outcomes under one of the possible decisions. This paper studies the learning of decision policies in the face of selective labels, in an online setting that balances learning costs against future utility. In the homogeneous case in which individuals' features are disregarded, the optimal decision policy is shown to be a threshold policy. The threshold becomes more stringent as more labels are collected; the rate at which this occurs is characterized. In the case of features drawn from a finite domain, the optimal policy consists of multiple homogeneous policies in parallel. For the general infinite-domain case, the homogeneous policy is extended by using a probabilistic classifier and bootstrapping to provide its inputs. In experiments on synthetic and real data, the proposed policies achieve consistently superior utility with no parameter tuning in the finite-domain case and lower parameter sensitivity in the general case.

Tue 20 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT