Tingwu Wang

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  • Benchmarking Model-Based Reinforcement Learning

    Model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) is widely seen as having the potential to be significantly more sample efficient than model-free RL. However, research in model-based RL has not been very standardized. It is fairly common for authors to experiment with self-designed environments, and there are several separate lines of research, which are sometimes closed-sourced or not reproducible. Accordingly, it is an open question how these various existing MBRL algorithms perform relative to each other. To facilitate research in MBRL, in this paper we gather a wide collection of MBRL algorithms and propose over 18 benchmarking environments specially designed for MBRL. We benchmark these algorithms with unified problem settings, including noisy environments. Beyond cataloguing performance, we explore and unify the underlying algorithmic differences across MBRL algorithms. We characterize three key research challenges for future MBRL research: the dynamics bottleneck, the planning horizon dilemma, and the early-termination dilemma. Finally, to maximally facilitate future research on MBRL, we open-source our benchmark in http://www.cs.toronto.edu/ tingwuwang/mbrl.html.

    07/03/2019 ∙ by Tingwu Wang, et al. ∙ 27 share

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  • Exploring Model-based Planning with Policy Networks

    Model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) with model-predictive control or online planning has shown great potential for locomotion control tasks in terms of both sample efficiency and asymptotic performance. Despite their initial successes, the existing planning methods search from candidate sequences randomly generated in the action space, which is inefficient in complex high-dimensional environments. In this paper, we propose a novel MBRL algorithm, model-based policy planning (POPLIN), that combines policy networks with online planning. More specifically, we formulate action planning at each time-step as an optimization problem using neural networks. We experiment with both optimization w.r.t. the action sequences initialized from the policy network, and also online optimization directly w.r.t. the parameters of the policy network. We show that POPLIN obtains state-of-the-art performance in the MuJoCo benchmarking environments, being about 3x more sample efficient than the state-of-the-art algorithms, such as PETS, TD3 and SAC. To explain the effectiveness of our algorithm, we show that the optimization surface in parameter space is smoother than in action space. Further more, we found the distilled policy network can be effectively applied without the expansive model predictive control during test time for some environments such as Cheetah. Code is released in https://github.com/WilsonWangTHU/POPLIN.

    06/20/2019 ∙ by Tingwu Wang, et al. ∙ 2 share

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  • VirtualHome: Simulating Household Activities via Programs

    In this paper, we are interested in modeling complex activities that occur in a typical household. We propose to use programs, i.e., sequences of atomic actions and interactions, as a high level representation of complex tasks. Programs are interesting because they provide a non-ambiguous representation of a task, and allow agents to execute them. However, nowadays, there is no database providing this type of information. Towards this goal, we first crowd-source programs for a variety of activities that happen in people's homes, via a game-like interface used for teaching kids how to code. Using the collected dataset, we show how we can learn to extract programs directly from natural language descriptions or from videos. We then implement the most common atomic (inter)actions in the Unity3D game engine, and use our programs to "drive" an artificial agent to execute tasks in a simulated household environment. Our VirtualHome simulator allows us to create a large activity video dataset with rich ground-truth, enabling training and testing of video understanding models. We further showcase examples of our agent performing tasks in our VirtualHome based on language descriptions.

    06/19/2018 ∙ by Xavier Puig, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Neural Graph Evolution: Towards Efficient Automatic Robot Design

    Despite the recent successes in robotic locomotion control, the design of robot relies heavily on human engineering. Automatic robot design has been a long studied subject, but the recent progress has been slowed due to the large combinatorial search space and the difficulty in evaluating the found candidates. To address the two challenges, we formulate automatic robot design as a graph search problem and perform evolution search in graph space. We propose Neural Graph Evolution (NGE), which performs selection on current candidates and evolves new ones iteratively. Different from previous approaches, NGE uses graph neural networks to parameterize the control policies, which reduces evaluation cost on new candidates with the help of skill transfer from previously evaluated designs. In addition, NGE applies Graph Mutation with Uncertainty (GM-UC) by incorporating model uncertainty, which reduces the search space by balancing exploration and exploitation. We show that NGE significantly outperforms previous methods by an order of magnitude. As shown in experiments, NGE is the first algorithm that can automatically discover kinematically preferred robotic graph structures, such as a fish with two symmetrical flat side-fins and a tail, or a cheetah with athletic front and back legs. Instead of using thousands of cores for weeks, NGE efficiently solves searching problem within a day on a single 64 CPU-core Amazon EC2 machine.

    06/12/2019 ∙ by Tingwu Wang, et al. ∙ 0 share

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