Pieter Abbeel

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Professor at UC Berkeley, Founder/President/Chief Scientist covariant.ai (formerly Embodied Intelligence), Founder Gradescope

  • Flow++: Improving Flow-Based Generative Models with Variational Dequantization and Architecture Design

    Flow-based generative models are powerful exact likelihood models with efficient sampling and inference. Despite their computational efficiency, flow-based models generally have much worse density modeling performance compared to state-of-the-art autoregressive models. In this paper, we investigate and improve upon three limiting design choices employed by flow-based models in prior work: the use of uniform noise for dequantization, the use of inexpressive affine flows, and the use of purely convolutional conditioning networks in coupling layers. Based on our findings, we propose Flow++, a new flow-based model that is now the state-of-the-art non-autoregressive model for unconditional density estimation on standard image benchmarks. Our work has begun to close the significant performance gap that has so far existed between autoregressive models and flow-based models. Our implementation is available at https://github.com/aravind0706/flowpp.

    02/01/2019 ∙ by Jonathan Ho, et al. ∙ 97 share

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  • Model-Based Reinforcement Learning via Meta-Policy Optimization

    Model-based reinforcement learning approaches carry the promise of being data efficient. However, due to challenges in learning dynamics models that sufficiently match the real-world dynamics, they struggle to achieve the same asymptotic performance as model-free methods. We propose Model-Based Meta-Policy-Optimization (MB-MPO), an approach that foregoes the strong reliance on accurate learned dynamics models. Using an ensemble of learned dynamic models, MB-MPO meta-learns a policy that can quickly adapt to any model in the ensemble with one policy gradient step. This steers the meta-policy towards internalizing consistent dynamics predictions among the ensemble while shifting the burden of behaving optimally w.r.t. the model discrepancies towards the adaptation step. Our experiments show that MB-MPO is more robust to model imperfections than previous model-based approaches. Finally, we demonstrate that our approach is able to match the asymptotic performance of model-free methods while requiring significantly less experience.

    09/14/2018 ∙ by Ignasi Clavera, et al. ∙ 34 share

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  • Modular Architecture for StarCraft II with Deep Reinforcement Learning

    We present a novel modular architecture for StarCraft II AI. The architecture splits responsibilities between multiple modules that each control one aspect of the game, such as build-order selection or tactics. A centralized scheduler reviews macros suggested by all modules and decides their order of execution. An updater keeps track of environment changes and instantiates macros into series of executable actions. Modules in this framework can be optimized independently or jointly via human design, planning, or reinforcement learning. We apply deep reinforcement learning techniques to training two out of six modules of a modular agent with self-play, achieving 94 against the "Harder" (level 5) built-in Blizzard bot in Zerg vs. Zerg matches, with or without fog-of-war.

    11/08/2018 ∙ by Dennis Lee, et al. ∙ 24 share

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  • Generalization through Simulation: Integrating Simulated and Real Data into Deep Reinforcement Learning for Vision-Based Autonomous Flight

    Deep reinforcement learning provides a promising approach for vision-based control of real-world robots. However, the generalization of such models depends critically on the quantity and variety of data available for training. This data can be difficult to obtain for some types of robotic systems, such as fragile, small-scale quadrotors. Simulated rendering and physics can provide for much larger datasets, but such data is inherently of lower quality: many of the phenomena that make the real-world autonomous flight problem challenging, such as complex physics and air currents, are modeled poorly or not at all, and the systematic differences between simulation and the real world are typically impossible to eliminate. In this work, we investigate how data from both simulation and the real world can be combined in a hybrid deep reinforcement learning algorithm. Our method uses real-world data to learn about the dynamics of the system, and simulated data to learn a generalizable perception system that can enable the robot to avoid collisions using only a monocular camera. We demonstrate our approach on a real-world nano aerial vehicle collision avoidance task, showing that with only an hour of real-world data, the quadrotor can avoid collisions in new environments with various lighting conditions and geometry. Code, instructions for building the aerial vehicles, and videos of the experiments can be found at github.com/gkahn13/GtS

    02/11/2019 ∙ by Katie Kang, et al. ∙ 22 share

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  • Variational Discriminator Bottleneck: Improving Imitation Learning, Inverse RL, and GANs by Constraining Information Flow

    Adversarial learning methods have been proposed for a wide range of applications, but the training of adversarial models can be notoriously unstable. Effectively balancing the performance of the generator and discriminator is critical, since a discriminator that achieves very high accuracy will produce relatively uninformative gradients. In this work, we propose a simple and general technique to constrain information flow in the discriminator by means of an information bottleneck. By enforcing a constraint on the mutual information between the observations and the discriminator's internal representation, we can effectively modulate the discriminator's accuracy and maintain useful and informative gradients. We demonstrate that our proposed variational discriminator bottleneck (VDB) leads to significant improvements across three distinct application areas for adversarial learning algorithms. Our primary evaluation studies the applicability of the VDB to imitation learning of dynamic continuous control skills, such as running. We show that our method can learn such skills directly from raw video demonstrations, substantially outperforming prior adversarial imitation learning methods. The VDB can also be combined with adversarial inverse reinforcement learning to learn parsimonious reward functions that can be transferred and re-optimized in new settings. Finally, we demonstrate that VDB can train GANs more effectively for image generation, improving upon a number of prior stabilization methods.

    10/01/2018 ∙ by Xue Bin Peng, et al. ∙ 20 share

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  • Domain Randomization for Active Pose Estimation

    Accurate state estimation is a fundamental component of robotic control. In robotic manipulation tasks, as is our focus in this work, state estimation is essential for identifying the positions of objects in the scene, forming the basis of the manipulation plan. However, pose estimation typically requires expensive 3D cameras or additional instrumentation such as fiducial markers to perform accurately. Recently, Tobin et al. introduced an approach to pose estimation based on domain randomization, where a neural network is trained to predict pose directly from a 2D image of the scene. The network is trained on computer-generated images with a high variation in textures and lighting, thereby generalizing to real-world images. In this work, we investigate how to improve the accuracy of domain randomization based pose estimation. Our main idea is that active perception -- moving the robot to get a better estimate of pose -- can be trained in simulation and transferred to real using domain randomization. In our approach, the robot trains in a domain-randomized simulation how to estimate pose from a sequence of images. We show that our approach can significantly improve the accuracy of standard pose estimation in several scenarios: when the robot holding an object moves, when reference objects are moved in the scene, or when the camera is moved around the object.

    03/10/2019 ∙ by Xinyi Ren, et al. ∙ 20 share

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  • Towards Characterizing Divergence in Deep Q-Learning

    Deep Q-Learning (DQL), a family of temporal difference algorithms for control, employs three techniques collectively known as the `deadly triad' in reinforcement learning: bootstrapping, off-policy learning, and function approximation. Prior work has demonstrated that together these can lead to divergence in Q-learning algorithms, but the conditions under which divergence occurs are not well-understood. In this note, we give a simple analysis based on a linear approximation to the Q-value updates, which we believe provides insight into divergence under the deadly triad. The central point in our analysis is to consider when the leading order approximation to the deep-Q update is or is not a contraction in the sup norm. Based on this analysis, we develop an algorithm which permits stable deep Q-learning for continuous control without any of the tricks conventionally used (such as target networks, adaptive gradient optimizers, or using multiple Q functions). We demonstrate that our algorithm performs above or near state-of-the-art on standard MuJoCo benchmarks from the OpenAI Gym.

    03/21/2019 ∙ by Joshua Achiam, et al. ∙ 16 share

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  • Learning Robotic Manipulation through Visual Planning and Acting

    Planning for robotic manipulation requires reasoning about the changes a robot can affect on objects. When such interactions can be modelled analytically, as in domains with rigid objects, efficient planning algorithms exist. However, in both domestic and industrial domains, the objects of interest can be soft, or deformable, and hard to model analytically. For such cases, we posit that a data-driven modelling approach is more suitable. In recent years, progress in deep generative models has produced methods that learn to `imagine' plausible images from data. Building on the recent Causal InfoGAN generative model, in this work we learn to imagine goal-directed object manipulation directly from raw image data of self-supervised interaction of the robot with the object. After learning, given a goal observation of the system, our model can generate an imagined plan -- a sequence of images that transition the object into the desired goal. To execute the plan, we use it as a reference trajectory to track with a visual servoing controller, which we also learn from the data as an inverse dynamics model. In a simulated manipulation task, we show that separating the problem into visual planning and visual tracking control is more sample efficient and more interpretable than alternative data-driven approaches. We further demonstrate our approach on learning to imagine and execute in 3 environments, the final of which is deformable rope manipulation on a PR2 robot.

    05/11/2019 ∙ by Angelina Wang, et al. ∙ 15 share

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  • One-Shot Hierarchical Imitation Learning of Compound Visuomotor Tasks

    We consider the problem of learning multi-stage vision-based tasks on a real robot from a single video of a human performing the task, while leveraging demonstration data of subtasks with other objects. This problem presents a number of major challenges. Video demonstrations without teleoperation are easy for humans to provide, but do not provide any direct supervision. Learning policies from raw pixels enables full generality but calls for large function approximators with many parameters to be learned. Finally, compound tasks can require impractical amounts of demonstration data, when treated as a monolithic skill. To address these challenges, we propose a method that learns both how to learn primitive behaviors from video demonstrations and how to dynamically compose these behaviors to perform multi-stage tasks by "watching" a human demonstrator. Our results on a simulated Sawyer robot and real PR2 robot illustrate our method for learning a variety of order fulfillment and kitchen serving tasks with novel objects and raw pixel inputs.

    10/25/2018 ∙ by Tianhe Yu, et al. ∙ 12 share

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  • Soft Actor-Critic Algorithms and Applications

    Model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have been successfully applied to a range of challenging sequential decision making and control tasks. However, these methods typically suffer from two major challenges: high sample complexity and brittleness to hyperparameters. Both of these challenges limit the applicability of such methods to real-world domains. In this paper, we describe Soft Actor-Critic (SAC), our recently introduced off-policy actor-critic algorithm based on the maximum entropy RL framework. In this framework, the actor aims to simultaneously maximize expected return and entropy. That is, to succeed at the task while acting as randomly as possible. We extend SAC to incorporate a number of modifications that accelerate training and improve stability with respect to the hyperparameters, including a constrained formulation that automatically tunes the temperature hyperparameter. We systematically evaluate SAC on a range of benchmark tasks, as well as real-world challenging tasks such as locomotion for a quadrupedal robot and robotic manipulation with a dexterous hand. With these improvements, SAC achieves state-of-the-art performance, outperforming prior on-policy and off-policy methods in sample-efficiency and asymptotic performance. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, in contrast to other off-policy algorithms, our approach is very stable, achieving similar performance across different random seeds. These results suggest that SAC is a promising candidate for learning in real-world robotics tasks.

    12/13/2018 ∙ by Tuomas Haarnoja, et al. ∙ 12 share

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  • Bit-Swap: Recursive Bits-Back Coding for Lossless Compression with Hierarchical Latent Variables

    The bits-back argument suggests that latent variable models can be turned into lossless compression schemes. Translating the bits-back argument into efficient and practical lossless compression schemes for general latent variable models, however, is still an open problem. Bits-Back with Asymmetric Numeral Systems (BB-ANS), recently proposed by Townsend et al. (2019), makes bits-back coding practically feasible for latent variable models with one latent layer, but it is inefficient for hierarchical latent variable models. In this paper we propose Bit-Swap, a new compression scheme that generalizes BB-ANS and achieves strictly better compression rates for hierarchical latent variable models with Markov chain structure. Through experiments we verify that Bit-Swap results in lossless compression rates that are empirically superior to existing techniques. Our implementation is available at https://github.com/fhkingma/bitswap.

    05/16/2019 ∙ by Friso H. Kingma, et al. ∙ 11 share

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