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Learning Neural Network Policies with Guided Policy Search under Unknown Dynamics
Sergey Levine · Pieter Abbeel

Wed Dec 10 12:30 PM -- 12:50 PM (PST) @ Level 2, room 210

We present a policy search method that uses iteratively refitted local linear models to optimize trajectory distributions for large, continuous problems. These trajectory distributions can be used within the framework of guided policy search to learn policies with an arbitrary parameterization. Our method fits time-varying linear dynamics models to speed up learning, but does not rely on learning a global model, which can be difficult when the dynamics are complex and discontinuous. We show that this hybrid approach requires many fewer samples than model-free methods, and can handle complex, nonsmooth dynamics that can pose a challenge for model-based techniques. We present experiments showing that our method can be used to learn complex neural network policies that successfully execute simulated robotic manipulation tasks in partially observed environments with numerous contact discontinuities and underactuation.

Author Information

Sergey Levine (UC Berkeley)
Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley & covariant.ai)

Pieter Abbeel is Professor and Director of the Robot Learning Lab at UC Berkeley [2008- ], Co-Director of the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Lab, Co-Founder of covariant.ai [2017- ], Co-Founder of Gradescope [2014- ], Advisor to OpenAI, Founding Faculty Partner AI@TheHouse venture fund, Advisor to many AI/Robotics start-ups. He works in machine learning and robotics. In particular his research focuses on making robots learn from people (apprenticeship learning), how to make robots learn through their own trial and error (reinforcement learning), and how to speed up skill acquisition through learning-to-learn (meta-learning). His robots have learned advanced helicopter aerobatics, knot-tying, basic assembly, organizing laundry, locomotion, and vision-based robotic manipulation. He has won numerous awards, including best paper awards at ICML, NIPS and ICRA, early career awards from NSF, Darpa, ONR, AFOSR, Sloan, TR35, IEEE, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Pieter's work is frequently featured in the popular press, including New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Wired, Forbes, Tech Review, NPR.

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