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Reinforcement Learning with Latent Flow
Wenling Shang · Xiaofei Wang · Aravind Srinivas · Aravind Rajeswaran · Yang Gao · Pieter Abbeel · Misha Laskin

Tue Dec 07 04:30 PM -- 06:00 PM (PST) @

Temporal information is essential to learning effective policies with Reinforcement Learning (RL). However, current state-of-the-art RL algorithms either assume that such information is given as part of the state space or, when learning from pixels, use the simple heuristic of frame-stacking to implicitly capture temporal information present in the image observations. This heuristic is in contrast to the current paradigm in video classification architectures, which utilize explicit encodings of temporal information through methods such as optical flow and two-stream architectures to achieve state-of-the-art performance. Inspired by leading video classification architectures, we introduce the Flow of Latents for Reinforcement Learning (Flare), a network architecture for RL that explicitly encodes temporal information through latent vector differences. We show that Flare recovers optimal performance in state-based RL without explicit access to the state velocity, solely with positional state information. Flare is the most sample efficient model-free pixel-based RL algorithm on the DeepMind Control suite when evaluated on the 500k and 1M step benchmarks across 5 challenging control tasks, and, when used with Rainbow DQN, outperforms the competitive baseline on Atari games at 100M time step benchmark across 8 challenging games.

Author Information

Wenling Shang (University of Amsterdam)
Xiaofei Wang (UC Berkeley)
Aravind Srinivas (UC Berkeley)
Aravind Rajeswaran (FAIR / Facebook AI Research)
Yang Gao (Tsinghua University)
Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley & Covariant)

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.

Misha Laskin (UC Berkeley)

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