Unsupervised Curricula for Visual Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Allan Jabri, Kyle Hsu, Abhishek Gupta, Ben Eysenbach, Sergey Levine, Chelsea Finn


In principle, meta-reinforcement learning algorithms leverage experience across many tasks to learn fast and effective reinforcement learning (RL) strategies. However, current meta-RL approaches rely on manually-defined distributions of training tasks, and hand-crafting these task distributions can be challenging and time-consuming. Can ``useful'' pre-training tasks be discovered in an unsupervised manner? We develop an unsupervised algorithm for inducing an adaptive meta-training task distribution, i.e. an automatic curriculum, by modeling unsupervised interaction in a visual environment. The task distribution is scaffolded by a parametric density model of the meta-learner's trajectory distribution. We formulate unsupervised meta-RL as information maximization between a latent task variable and the meta-learner’s data distribution, and describe a practical instantiation which alternates between integration of recent experience into the task distribution and meta-learning of the updated tasks. Repeating this procedure leads to iterative reorganization such that the curriculum adapts as the meta-learner's data distribution shifts. Moreover, we show how discriminative clustering frameworks for visual representations can support trajectory-level task acquisition and exploration in domains with pixel observations, avoiding the pitfalls of alternatives. In experiments on vision-based navigation and manipulation domains, we show that the algorithm allows for unsupervised meta-learning that both transfers to downstream tasks specified by hand-crafted reward functions and serves as pre-training for more efficient meta-learning of test task distributions.