Yan Duan

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Co-founder and CTO at covariant.ai

  • 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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  • Evaluating Protein Transfer Learning with TAPE

    Protein modeling is an increasingly popular area of machine learning research. Semi-supervised learning has emerged as an important paradigm in protein modeling due to the high cost of acquiring supervised protein labels, but the current literature is fragmented when it comes to datasets and standardized evaluation techniques. To facilitate progress in this field, we introduce the Tasks Assessing Protein Embeddings (TAPE), a set of five biologically relevant semi-supervised learning tasks spread across different domains of protein biology. We curate tasks into specific training, validation, and test splits to ensure that each task tests biologically relevant generalization that transfers to real-life scenarios. We benchmark a range of approaches to semi-supervised protein representation learning, which span recent work as well as canonical sequence learning techniques. We find that self-supervised pretraining is helpful for almost all models on all tasks, more than doubling performance in some cases. Despite this increase, in several cases features learned by self-supervised pretraining still lag behind features extracted by state-of-the-art non-neural techniques. This gap in performance suggests a huge opportunity for innovative architecture design and improved modeling paradigms that better capture the signal in biological sequences. TAPE will help the machine learning community focus effort on scientifically relevant problems. Toward this end, all data and code used to run these experiments are available at https://github.com/songlab-cal/tape.

    06/19/2019 ∙ by Roshan Rao, et al. ∙ 3 share

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  • One-Shot Imitation Learning

    Imitation learning has been commonly applied to solve different tasks in isolation. This usually requires either careful feature engineering, or a significant number of samples. This is far from what we desire: ideally, robots should be able to learn from very few demonstrations of any given task, and instantly generalize to new situations of the same task, without requiring task-specific engineering. In this paper, we propose a meta-learning framework for achieving such capability, which we call one-shot imitation learning. Specifically, we consider the setting where there is a very large set of tasks, and each task has many instantiations. For example, a task could be to stack all blocks on a table into a single tower, another task could be to place all blocks on a table into two-block towers, etc. In each case, different instances of the task would consist of different sets of blocks with different initial states. At training time, our algorithm is presented with pairs of demonstrations for a subset of all tasks. A neural net is trained that takes as input one demonstration and the current state (which initially is the initial state of the other demonstration of the pair), and outputs an action with the goal that the resulting sequence of states and actions matches as closely as possible with the second demonstration. At test time, a demonstration of a single instance of a new task is presented, and the neural net is expected to perform well on new instances of this new task. The use of soft attention allows the model to generalize to conditions and tasks unseen in the training data. We anticipate that by training this model on a much greater variety of tasks and settings, we will obtain a general system that can turn any demonstrations into robust policies that can accomplish an overwhelming variety of tasks. Videos available at https://bit.ly/nips2017-oneshot .

    03/21/2017 ∙ by Yan Duan, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Stochastic Neural Networks for Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

    Deep reinforcement learning has achieved many impressive results in recent years. However, tasks with sparse rewards or long horizons continue to pose significant challenges. To tackle these important problems, we propose a general framework that first learns useful skills in a pre-training environment, and then leverages the acquired skills for learning faster in downstream tasks. Our approach brings together some of the strengths of intrinsic motivation and hierarchical methods: the learning of useful skill is guided by a single proxy reward, the design of which requires very minimal domain knowledge about the downstream tasks. Then a high-level policy is trained on top of these skills, providing a significant improvement of the exploration and allowing to tackle sparse rewards in the downstream tasks. To efficiently pre-train a large span of skills, we use Stochastic Neural Networks combined with an information-theoretic regularizer. Our experiments show that this combination is effective in learning a wide span of interpretable skills in a sample-efficient way, and can significantly boost the learning performance uniformly across a wide range of downstream tasks.

    04/10/2017 ∙ by Carlos Florensa, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • #Exploration: A Study of Count-Based Exploration for Deep Reinforcement Learning

    Count-based exploration algorithms are known to perform near-optimally when used in conjunction with tabular reinforcement learning (RL) methods for solving small discrete Markov decision processes (MDPs). It is generally thought that count-based methods cannot be applied in high-dimensional state spaces, since most states will only occur once. Recent deep RL exploration strategies are able to deal with high-dimensional continuous state spaces through complex heuristics, often relying on optimism in the face of uncertainty or intrinsic motivation. In this work, we describe a surprising finding: a simple generalization of the classic count-based approach can reach near state-of-the-art performance on various high-dimensional and/or continuous deep RL benchmarks. States are mapped to hash codes, which allows to count their occurrences with a hash table. These counts are then used to compute a reward bonus according to the classic count-based exploration theory. We find that simple hash functions can achieve surprisingly good results on many challenging tasks. Furthermore, we show that a domain-dependent learned hash code may further improve these results. Detailed analysis reveals important aspects of a good hash function: 1) having appropriate granularity and 2) encoding information relevant to solving the MDP. This exploration strategy achieves near state-of-the-art performance on both continuous control tasks and Atari 2600 games, hence providing a simple yet powerful baseline for solving MDPs that require considerable exploration.

    11/15/2016 ∙ by Haoran Tang, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Adversarial Attacks on Neural Network Policies

    Machine learning classifiers are known to be vulnerable to inputs maliciously constructed by adversaries to force misclassification. Such adversarial examples have been extensively studied in the context of computer vision applications. In this work, we show adversarial attacks are also effective when targeting neural network policies in reinforcement learning. Specifically, we show existing adversarial example crafting techniques can be used to significantly degrade test-time performance of trained policies. Our threat model considers adversaries capable of introducing small perturbations to the raw input of the policy. We characterize the degree of vulnerability across tasks and training algorithms, for a subclass of adversarial-example attacks in white-box and black-box settings. Regardless of the learned task or training algorithm, we observe a significant drop in performance, even with small adversarial perturbations that do not interfere with human perception. Videos are available at http://rll.berkeley.edu/adversarial.

    02/08/2017 ∙ by Sandy Huang, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • RL^2: Fast Reinforcement Learning via Slow Reinforcement Learning

    Deep reinforcement learning (deep RL) has been successful in learning sophisticated behaviors automatically; however, the learning process requires a huge number of trials. In contrast, animals can learn new tasks in just a few trials, benefiting from their prior knowledge about the world. This paper seeks to bridge this gap. Rather than designing a "fast" reinforcement learning algorithm, we propose to represent it as a recurrent neural network (RNN) and learn it from data. In our proposed method, RL^2, the algorithm is encoded in the weights of the RNN, which are learned slowly through a general-purpose ("slow") RL algorithm. The RNN receives all information a typical RL algorithm would receive, including observations, actions, rewards, and termination flags; and it retains its state across episodes in a given Markov Decision Process (MDP). The activations of the RNN store the state of the "fast" RL algorithm on the current (previously unseen) MDP. We evaluate RL^2 experimentally on both small-scale and large-scale problems. On the small-scale side, we train it to solve randomly generated multi-arm bandit problems and finite MDPs. After RL^2 is trained, its performance on new MDPs is close to human-designed algorithms with optimality guarantees. On the large-scale side, we test RL^2 on a vision-based navigation task and show that it scales up to high-dimensional problems.

    11/09/2016 ∙ by Yan Duan, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Variational Lossy Autoencoder

    Representation learning seeks to expose certain aspects of observed data in a learned representation that's amenable to downstream tasks like classification. For instance, a good representation for 2D images might be one that describes only global structure and discards information about detailed texture. In this paper, we present a simple but principled method to learn such global representations by combining Variational Autoencoder (VAE) with neural autoregressive models such as RNN, MADE and PixelRNN/CNN. Our proposed VAE model allows us to have control over what the global latent code can learn and , by designing the architecture accordingly, we can force the global latent code to discard irrelevant information such as texture in 2D images, and hence the VAE only "autoencodes" data in a lossy fashion. In addition, by leveraging autoregressive models as both prior distribution p(z) and decoding distribution p(x|z), we can greatly improve generative modeling performance of VAEs, achieving new state-of-the-art results on MNIST, OMNIGLOT and Caltech-101 Silhouettes density estimation tasks.

    11/08/2016 ∙ by Xi Chen, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • InfoGAN: Interpretable Representation Learning by Information Maximizing Generative Adversarial Nets

    This paper describes InfoGAN, an information-theoretic extension to the Generative Adversarial Network that is able to learn disentangled representations in a completely unsupervised manner. InfoGAN is a generative adversarial network that also maximizes the mutual information between a small subset of the latent variables and the observation. We derive a lower bound to the mutual information objective that can be optimized efficiently, and show that our training procedure can be interpreted as a variation of the Wake-Sleep algorithm. Specifically, InfoGAN successfully disentangles writing styles from digit shapes on the MNIST dataset, pose from lighting of 3D rendered images, and background digits from the central digit on the SVHN dataset. It also discovers visual concepts that include hair styles, presence/absence of eyeglasses, and emotions on the CelebA face dataset. Experiments show that InfoGAN learns interpretable representations that are competitive with representations learned by existing fully supervised methods.

    06/12/2016 ∙ by Xi Chen, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • VIME: Variational Information Maximizing Exploration

    Scalable and effective exploration remains a key challenge in reinforcement learning (RL). While there are methods with optimality guarantees in the setting of discrete state and action spaces, these methods cannot be applied in high-dimensional deep RL scenarios. As such, most contemporary RL relies on simple heuristics such as epsilon-greedy exploration or adding Gaussian noise to the controls. This paper introduces Variational Information Maximizing Exploration (VIME), an exploration strategy based on maximization of information gain about the agent's belief of environment dynamics. We propose a practical implementation, using variational inference in Bayesian neural networks which efficiently handles continuous state and action spaces. VIME modifies the MDP reward function, and can be applied with several different underlying RL algorithms. We demonstrate that VIME achieves significantly better performance compared to heuristic exploration methods across a variety of continuous control tasks and algorithms, including tasks with very sparse rewards.

    05/31/2016 ∙ by Rein Houthooft, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Some Considerations on Learning to Explore via Meta-Reinforcement Learning

    We consider the problem of exploration in meta reinforcement learning. Two new meta reinforcement learning algorithms are suggested: E-MAML and E-RL^2. Results are presented on a novel environment we call `Krazy World' and a set of maze environments. We show E-MAML and E-RL^2 deliver better performance on tasks where exploration is important.

    03/03/2018 ∙ by Bradly C. Stadie, et al. ∙ 0 share

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