In Online Continual Learning (OCL) a learning system receives a stream of data and sequentially performs prediction and training steps. Important challenges in OCL are concerned with automatic adaptation to the particular non-stationary structure of the data, and with quantification of predictive uncertainty. Motivated by these challenges we introduce a probabilistic Bayesian online learning model by using a (possibly pretrained) neural representation and a state space model over the linear predictor weights. Non-stationarity over the linear predictor weights is modelled using a parameter drift transition density, parametrized by a coefficient that quantifies forgetting. Inference in the model is implemented with efficient Kalman filter recursions which track the posterior distribution over the linear weights, while online SGD updates over the transition dynamics coefficient allows to adapt to the non-stationarity seen in data. While the framework is developed assuming a linear Gaussian model, we also extend it to deal with classification problems and for fine-tuning the deep learning representation. In a set of experiments in multi-class classification using data sets such as CIFAR-100 and CLOC we demonstrate the predictive ability of the model and its flexibility to capture non-stationarity.
The field of transfer learning is undergoing a significant shift with the introduction of large pretrained models which have demonstrated strong adaptability to a variety of downstream tasks. However, the high computational and memory requirements to finetune or use these models can be a hindrance to their widespread use. In this study, we present a solution to this issue by proposing a simple yet effective way to trade computational efficiency for asymptotic performance which we define as the performance a learning algorithm achieves as compute tends to infinity. Specifically, we argue that zero-shot structured pruning of pretrained models allows them to increase compute efficiency with minimal reduction in performance. We evaluate our method on the Nevis'22 continual learning benchmark that offers a diverse set of transfer scenarios. Our results show that pruning convolutional filters of pretrained models can lead to more than 20% performance improvement in low computational regimes.
We introduce the Never Ending VIsual-classification Stream (NEVIS'22), a benchmark consisting of a stream of over 100 visual classification tasks, sorted chronologically and extracted from papers sampled uniformly from computer vision proceedings spanning the last three decades. The resulting stream reflects what the research community thought was meaningful at any point in time. Despite being limited to classification, the resulting stream has a rich diversity of tasks from OCR, to texture analysis, crowd counting, scene recognition, and so forth. The diversity is also reflected in the wide range of dataset sizes, spanning over four orders of magnitude. Overall, NEVIS'22 poses an unprecedented challenge for current sequential learning approaches due to the scale and diversity of tasks, yet with a low entry barrier as it is limited to a single modality and each task is a classical supervised learning problem. Moreover, we provide a reference implementation including strong baselines and a simple evaluation protocol to compare methods in terms of their trade-off between accuracy and compute. We hope that NEVIS'22 can be useful to researchers working on continual learning, meta-learning, AutoML and more generally sequential learning, and help these communities join forces towards more robust and efficient models that efficiently adapt to a never ending stream of data. Implementations have been made available at https://github.com/deepmind/dm_nevis.
We present a simple, yet powerful data-augmentation technique to enable data-efficient learning from parametric experts for reinforcement and imitation learning. We focus on what we call the policy cloning setting, in which we use online or offline queries of an expert or expert policy to inform the behavior of a student policy. This setting arises naturally in a number of problems, for instance as variants of behavior cloning, or as a component of other algorithms such as DAGGER, policy distillation or KL-regularized RL. Our approach, augmented policy cloning (APC), uses synthetic states to induce feedback-sensitivity in a region around sampled trajectories, thus dramatically reducing the environment interactions required for successful cloning of the expert. We achieve highly data-efficient transfer of behavior from an expert to a student policy for high-degrees-of-freedom control problems. We demonstrate the benefit of our method in the context of several existing and widely used algorithms that include policy cloning as a constituent part. Moreover, we highlight the benefits of our approach in two practically relevant settings (a) expert compression, i.e. transfer to a student with fewer parameters; and (b) transfer from privileged experts, i.e. where the expert has a different observation space than the student, usually including access to privileged information.
The rapid progress in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has opened unprecedented analytics possibilities in various team and individual sports, including baseball, basketball, and tennis. More recently, AI techniques have been applied to football, due to a huge increase in data collection by professional teams, increased computational power, and advances in machine learning, with the goal of better addressing new scientific challenges involved in the analysis of both individual players' and coordinated teams' behaviors. The research challenges associated with predictive and prescriptive football analytics require new developments and progress at the intersection of statistical learning, game theory, and computer vision. In this paper, we provide an overarching perspective highlighting how the combination of these fields, in particular, forms a unique microcosm for AI research, while offering mutual benefits for professional teams, spectators, and broadcasters in the years to come. We illustrate that this duality makes football analytics a game changer of tremendous value, in terms of not only changing the game of football itself, but also in terms of what this domain can mean for the field of AI. We review the state-of-the-art and exemplify the types of analysis enabled by combining the aforementioned fields, including illustrative examples of counterfactual analysis using predictive models, and the combination of game-theoretic analysis of penalty kicks with statistical learning of player attributes. We conclude by highlighting envisioned downstream impacts, including possibilities for extensions to other sports (real and virtual).
As we deploy reinforcement learning agents to solve increasingly challenging problems, methods that allow us to inject prior knowledge about the structure of the world and effective solution strategies becomes increasingly important. In this work we consider how information and architectural constraints can be combined with ideas from the probabilistic modeling literature to learn behavior priors that capture the common movement and interaction patterns that are shared across a set of related tasks or contexts. For example the day-to day behavior of humans comprises distinctive locomotion and manipulation patterns that recur across many different situations and goals. We discuss how such behavior patterns can be captured using probabilistic trajectory models and how these can be integrated effectively into reinforcement learning schemes, e.g.\ to facilitate multi-task and transfer learning. We then extend these ideas to latent variable models and consider a formulation to learn hierarchical priors that capture different aspects of the behavior in reusable modules. We discuss how such latent variable formulations connect to related work on hierarchical reinforcement learning (HRL) and mutual information and curiosity based objectives, thereby offering an alternative perspective on existing ideas. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by applying it to a range of simulated continuous control domains.
Learning dexterous manipulation in high-dimensional state-action spaces is an important open challenge with exploration presenting a major bottleneck. Although in many cases the learning process could be guided by demonstrations or other suboptimal experts, current RL algorithms for continuous action spaces often fail to effectively utilize combinations of highly off-policy expert data and on-policy exploration data. As a solution, we introduce Relative Entropy Q-Learning (REQ), a simple policy iteration algorithm that combines ideas from successful offline and conventional RL algorithms. It represents the optimal policy via importance sampling from a learned prior and is well-suited to take advantage of mixed data distributions. We demonstrate experimentally that REQ outperforms several strong baselines on robotic manipulation tasks for which suboptimal experts are available. We show how suboptimal experts can be constructed effectively by composing simple waypoint tracking controllers, and we also show how learned primitives can be combined with waypoint controllers to obtain reference behaviors to bootstrap a complex manipulation task on a simulated bimanual robot with human-like hands. Finally, we show that REQ is also effective for general off-policy RL, offline RL, and RL from demonstrations. Videos and further materials are available at sites.google.com/view/rlfse.
An effective approach to exploration in reinforcement learning is to rely on an agent's uncertainty over the optimal policy, which can yield near-optimal exploration strategies in tabular settings. However, in non-tabular settings that involve function approximators, obtaining accurate uncertainty estimates is almost as challenging a problem. In this paper, we highlight that value estimates are easily biased and temporally inconsistent. In light of this, we propose a novel method for estimating uncertainty over the value function that relies on inducing a distribution over temporal difference errors. This exploration signal controls for state-action transitions so as to isolate uncertainty in value that is due to uncertainty over the agent's parameters. Because our measure of uncertainty conditions on state-action transitions, we cannot act on this measure directly. Instead, we incorporate it as an intrinsic reward and treat exploration as a separate learning problem, induced by the agent's temporal difference uncertainties. We introduce a distinct exploration policy that learns to collect data with high estimated uncertainty, which gives rise to a curriculum that smoothly changes throughout learning and vanishes in the limit of perfect value estimates. We evaluate our method on hard exploration tasks, including Deep Sea and Atari 2600 environments and find that our proposed form of exploration facilitates both diverse and deep exploration.
We formulate meta learning using information theoretic concepts such as mutual information and the information bottleneck. The idea is to learn a stochastic representation or encoding of the task description, given by a training or support set, that is highly informative about predicting the validation set. By making use of variational approximations to the mutual information, we derive a general and tractable framework for meta learning. We particularly develop new memory-based meta learning algorithms based on Gaussian processes and derive extensions that combine memory and gradient-based meta learning. We demonstrate our method on few-shot regression and classification by using standard benchmarks such as Omniglot, mini-Imagenet and Augmented Omniglot.
The ability to exploit prior experience to solve novel problems rapidly is a hallmark of biological learning systems and of great practical importance for artificial ones. In the meta reinforcement learning literature much recent work has focused on the problem of optimizing the learning process itself. In this paper we study a complementary approach which is conceptually simple, general, modular and built on top of recent improvements in off-policy learning. The framework is inspired by ideas from the probabilistic inference literature and combines robust off-policy learning with a behavior prior, or default behavior that constrains the space of solutions and serves as a bias for exploration; as well as a representation for the value function, both of which are easily learned from a number of training tasks in a multi-task scenario. Our approach achieves competitive adaptation performance on hold-out tasks compared to meta reinforcement learning baselines and can scale to complex sparse-reward scenarios.