Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


Reinforcement Learning 9

Moderator: Léonard Hussenot

Chat is not available.

Tue 20 July 19:00 - 19:20 PDT

Hyperparameter Selection for Imitation Learning

Léonard Hussenot · Marcin Andrychowicz · Damien Vincent · Robert Dadashi · Anton Raichuk · Sabela Ramos · Nikola Momchev · Sertan Girgin · Raphael Marinier · Lukasz Stafiniak · Emmanuel Orsini · Olivier Bachem · Matthieu Geist · Olivier Pietquin

We address the issue of tuning hyperparameters (HPs) for imitation learning algorithms in the context of continuous-control, when the underlying reward function of the demonstrating expert cannot be observed at any time. The vast literature in imitation learning mostly considers this reward function to be available for HP selection, but this is not a realistic setting. Indeed, would this reward function be available, it could then directly be used for policy training and imitation would not be necessary. To tackle this mostly ignored problem, we propose a number of possible proxies to the external reward. We evaluate them in an extensive empirical study (more than 10'000 agents across 9 environments) and make practical recommendations for selecting HPs. Our results show that while imitation learning algorithms are sensitive to HP choices, it is often possible to select good enough HPs through a proxy to the reward function.

Tue 20 July 19:20 - 19:25 PDT

Revisiting Peng's Q($\lambda$) for Modern Reinforcement Learning

Tadashi Kozuno · Yunhao Tang · Mark Rowland · Remi Munos · Steven Kapturowski · Will Dabney · Michal Valko · David Abel

Off-policy multi-step reinforcement learning algorithms consist of conservative and non-conservative algorithms: the former actively cut traces, whereas the latter do not. Recently, Munos et al. (2016) proved the convergence of conservative algorithms to an optimal Q-function. In contrast, non-conservative algorithms are thought to be unsafe and have a limited or no theoretical guarantee. Nonetheless, recent studies have shown that non-conservative algorithms empirically outperform conservative ones. Motivated by the empirical results and the lack of theory, we carry out theoretical analyses of Peng's Q($\lambda$), a representative example of non-conservative algorithms. We prove that \emph{it also converges to an optimal policy} provided that the behavior policy slowly tracks a greedy policy in a way similar to conservative policy iteration. Such a result has been conjectured to be true but has not been proven. We also experiment with Peng's Q($\lambda$) in complex continuous control tasks, confirming that Peng's Q($\lambda$) often outperforms conservative algorithms despite its simplicity. These results indicate that Peng's Q($\lambda$), which was thought to be unsafe, is a theoretically-sound and practically effective algorithm.

Tue 20 July 19:25 - 19:30 PDT

Monotonic Robust Policy Optimization with Model Discrepancy

yuankun jiang · Chenglin Li · Wenrui Dai · Junni Zou · Hongkai Xiong

State-of-the-art deep reinforcement learning (DRL) algorithms tend to overfit due to the model discrepancy between source and target environments. Though applying domain randomization during training can improve the average performance by randomly generating a sufficient diversity of environments in simulator, the worst-case environment is still neglected without any performance guarantee. Since the average and worst-case performance are both important for generalization in RL, in this paper, we propose a policy optimization approach for concurrently improving the policy's performance in the average and worst-case environment. We theoretically derive a lower bound for the worst-case performance of a given policy by relating it to the expected performance. Guided by this lower bound, we formulate an optimization problem to jointly optimize the policy and sampling distribution, and prove that by iteratively solving it the worst-case performance is monotonically improved. We then develop a practical algorithm, named monotonic robust policy optimization (MRPO). Experimental evaluations in several robot control tasks demonstrate that MRPO can generally improve both the average and worst-case performance in the source environments for training, and facilitate in all cases the learned policy with a better generalization capability in some unseen testing environments.

Tue 20 July 19:30 - 19:35 PDT

Taylor Expansion of Discount Factors

Yunhao Tang · Mark Rowland · Remi Munos · Michal Valko

In practical reinforcement learning (RL), the discount factor used for estimating value functions often differs from that used for defining the evaluation objective. In this work, we study the effect that this discrepancy of discount factors has during learning, and discover a family of objectives that interpolate value functions of two distinct discount factors. Our analysis suggests new ways for estimating value functions and performing policy optimization updates, which demonstrate empirical performance gains. This framework also leads to new insights on commonly-used deep RL heuristic modifications to policy optimization algorithms.

Tue 20 July 19:35 - 19:40 PDT

Generalizable Episodic Memory for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Hao Hu · Jianing Ye · Guangxiang Zhu · Zhizhou Ren · Chongjie Zhang

Episodic memory-based methods can rapidly latch onto past successful strategies by a non-parametric memory and improve sample efficiency of traditional reinforcement learning. However, little effort is put into the continuous domain, where a state is never visited twice, and previous episodic methods fail to efficiently aggregate experience across trajectories. To address this problem, we propose Generalizable Episodic Memory (GEM), which effectively organizes the state-action values of episodic memory in a generalizable manner and supports implicit planning on memorized trajectories. GEM utilizes a double estimator to reduce the overestimation bias induced by value propagation in the planning process. Empirical evaluation shows that our method significantly outperforms existing trajectory-based methods on various MuJoCo continuous control tasks. To further show the general applicability, we evaluate our method on Atari games with discrete action space, which also shows a significant improvement over baseline algorithms.

Tue 20 July 19:40 - 19:45 PDT

Representation Matters: Offline Pretraining for Sequential Decision Making

Mengjiao Yang · Ofir Nachum

The recent success of supervised learning methods on ever larger offline datasets has spurred interest in the reinforcement learning (RL) field to investigate whether the same paradigms can be translated to RL algorithms. This research area, known as offline RL, has largely focused on offline policy optimization, aiming to find a return-maximizing policy exclusively from offline data. In this paper, we consider a slightly different approach to incorporating offline data into sequential decision-making. We aim to answer the question, what unsupervised objectives applied to offline datasets are able to learn state representations which elevate performance on downstream tasks, whether those downstream tasks be online RL, imitation learning from expert demonstrations, or even offline policy optimization based on the same offline dataset? Through a variety of experiments utilizing standard offline RL datasets, we find that the use of pretraining with unsupervised learning objectives can dramatically improve the performance of policy learning algorithms that otherwise yield mediocre performance on their own. Extensive ablations further provide insights into what components of these unsupervised objectives – e.g., reward prediction, continuous or discrete representations, pretraining or finetuning – are most important and in which settings.

Tue 20 July 19:45 - 19:50 PDT

Reinforcement Learning Under Moral Uncertainty

Adrien Ecoffet · Joel Lehman

An ambitious goal for machine learning is to create agents that behave ethically: The capacity to abide by human moral norms would greatly expand the context in which autonomous agents could be practically and safely deployed, e.g. fully autonomous vehicles will encounter charged moral decisions that complicate their deployment. While ethical agents could be trained by rewarding correct behavior under a specific moral theory (e.g. utilitarianism), there remains widespread disagreement about the nature of morality. Acknowledging such disagreement, recent work in moral philosophy proposes that ethical behavior requires acting under moral uncertainty, i.e. to take into account when acting that one's credence is split across several plausible ethical theories. This paper translates such insights to the field of reinforcement learning, proposes two training methods that realize different points among competing desiderata, and trains agents in simple environments to act under moral uncertainty. The results illustrate (1) how such uncertainty can help curb extreme behavior from commitment to single theories and (2) several technical complications arising from attempting to ground moral philosophy in RL (e.g. how can a principled trade-off between two competing but incomparable reward functions be reached). The aim is to catalyze progress towards morally-competent agents and highlight the potential of RL to contribute towards the computational grounding of moral philosophy.

Tue 20 July 19:50 - 19:55 PDT