Multitask Soft Option Learning Multitask Soft Option Learning
Paper summary This paper blends concepts from variational inference and hierarchical reinforcement learning, learning skills or “options” out of which master policies can be constructed, in a way that allows for both information transfer across tasks and specialization on any given task. The idea of hierarchical reinforcement learning is that instead of maintaining one single policy distribution (a learned mapping between world-states and actions), a learning system will maintain multiple simpler policies, and then learn a meta-policy for transitioning between these object-level policies. The hope is that this setup leads to both greater transparency and compactness (because skills are compartmentalized), and also greater ability to transfer across tasks (because if skills are granular enough, different combinations of the same skills can be used to solve quite different tasks). The differentiating proposal of this paper is that, instead of learning skills that will be fixed with respect to the master, task-specific policy, we instead learning cross-task priors over different skills, which can then be fine-tuned for a given specific task. Mathematically, this looks like a reward function that is a combination of (1) actual rewards on a trajectory, and (2) the difference in the log probability of a given trajectory under the task-specific posterior and under the prior. This framing works in two directions: it allows a general prior to be pulled towards task-specific rewards, to get more specialized value, but it also pulls the per-task skill towards the global prior. This is both a source of transfer knowledge and general regularization, and also an incentive for skills to be relatively consistent across tasks, because consistent posteriors will be more locally clustered around their prior. The paper argues that one advantage of this is a symmetry-breaking effect, avoiding a local minimum where two skills are both being used to solve subtask A, and it would be better for one of them to specialize on subtask B, but in order to do so the local effect would be worse performance of that skill on subtask A, which would be to the overall policy’s detriment because that skill was being actively used to solve that task. Under a prior-driven system, the model would have an incentive to pick one or the other of the options and use that for a given subtask, based on whichever’s prior was closest in trajectory-space. On a mechanical level, this set of priors is divided into a few structural parts: 1) A termination distribution, which chooses whether to keep drawing actions from the skill/subpolicy you’re currently on, or trade it in for a new one. This one has a prior set at a Bernoulli distribution with some learned alpha 2) A skill transition distribution, which chooses, conditional on sampling a “terminate”, which skill to switch to next. This has a prior of a uniform distribution over skills, which incentivizes the learning system to not put all its sampling focus on one policy too early 3) A distribution of actions given a skill choice, which, as mentioned before, has both a cross-task prior and a per-task learned posterior

Summary by CodyWild 4 days ago
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