Ensembling has proven to be a powerful technique for boosting model performance, uncertainty estimation, and robustness in supervised learning. Advances in self-supervised learning (SSL) enable leveraging large unlabeled corpora for state-of-the-art few-shot and supervised learning performance. In this paper, we explore how ensemble methods can improve recent SSL techniques by developing a framework that permits data-dependent weighted cross-entropy losses. We refrain from ensembling the representation backbone; this choice yields an efficient ensemble method that incurs a small training cost and requires no architectural changes or computational overhead to downstream evaluation. The effectiveness of our method is demonstrated with two state-of-the-art SSL methods, DINO (Caron et al., 2021) and MSN (Assran et al., 2022). Our method outperforms both in multiple evaluation metrics on ImageNet-1K, particularly in the few-shot setting. We explore several weighting schemes and find that those which increase the diversity of ensemble heads lead to better downstream evaluation results. Thorough experiments yield improved prior art baselines which our method still surpasses; e.g., our overall improvement with MSN ViT-B/16 is 3.9 p.p. for 1-shot learning.
The predictive information, the mutual information between the past and future, has been shown to be a useful representation learning auxiliary loss for training reinforcement learning agents, as the ability to model what will happen next is critical to success on many control tasks. While existing studies are largely restricted to training specialist agents on single-task settings in simulation, in this work, we study modeling the predictive information for robotic agents and its importance for general-purpose agents that are trained to master a large repertoire of diverse skills from large amounts of data. Specifically, we introduce Predictive Information QT-Opt (PI-QT-Opt), a QT-Opt agent augmented with an auxiliary loss that learns representations of the predictive information to solve up to 297 vision-based robot manipulation tasks in simulation and the real world with a single set of parameters. We demonstrate that modeling the predictive information significantly improves success rates on the training tasks and leads to better zero-shot transfer to unseen novel tasks. Finally, we evaluate PI-QT-Opt on real robots, achieving substantial and consistent improvement over QT-Opt in multiple experimental settings of varying environments, skills, and multi-task configurations.
Intelligent agents need to select long sequences of actions to solve complex tasks. While humans easily break down tasks into subgoals and reach them through millions of muscle commands, current artificial intelligence is limited to tasks with horizons of a few hundred decisions, despite large compute budgets. Research on hierarchical reinforcement learning aims to overcome this limitation but has proven to be challenging, current methods rely on manually specified goal spaces or subtasks, and no general solution exists. We introduce Director, a practical method for learning hierarchical behaviors directly from pixels by planning inside the latent space of a learned world model. The high-level policy maximizes task and exploration rewards by selecting latent goals and the low-level policy learns to achieve the goals. Despite operating in latent space, the decisions are interpretable because the world model can decode goals into images for visualization. Director outperforms exploration methods on tasks with sparse rewards, including 3D maze traversal with a quadruped robot from an egocentric camera and proprioception, without access to the global position or top-down view that was used by prior work. Director also learns successful behaviors across a wide range of environments, including visual control, Atari games, and DMLab levels.
A longstanding goal of the field of AI is a strategy for compiling diverse experience into a highly capable, generalist agent. In the subfields of vision and language, this was largely achieved by scaling up transformer-based models and training them on large, diverse datasets. Motivated by this progress, we investigate whether the same strategy can be used to produce generalist reinforcement learning agents. Specifically, we show that a single transformer-based model - with a single set of weights - trained purely offline can play a suite of up to 46 Atari games simultaneously at close-to-human performance. When trained and evaluated appropriately, we find that the same trends observed in language and vision hold, including scaling of performance with model size and rapid adaptation to new games via fine-tuning. We compare several approaches in this multi-game setting, such as online and offline RL methods and behavioral cloning, and find that our Multi-Game Decision Transformer models offer the best scalability and performance. We release the pre-trained models and code to encourage further research in this direction. Additional information, videos and code can be seen at: sites.google.com/view/multi-game-transformers
Imitation learning often needs a large demonstration set in order to handle the full range of situations that an agent might find itself in during deployment. However, collecting expert demonstrations can be expensive. Recent work in vision, reinforcement learning, and NLP has shown that auxiliary representation learning objectives can reduce the need for large amounts of expensive, task-specific data. Our Empirical Investigation of Representation Learning for Imitation (EIRLI) investigates whether similar benefits apply to imitation learning. We propose a modular framework for constructing representation learning algorithms, then use our framework to evaluate the utility of representation learning for imitation across several environment suites. In the settings we evaluate, we find that existing algorithms for image-based representation learning provide limited value relative to a well-tuned baseline with image augmentations. To explain this result, we investigate differences between imitation learning and other settings where representation learning has provided significant benefit, such as image classification. Finally, we release a well-documented codebase which both replicates our findings and provides a modular framework for creating new representation learning algorithms out of reusable components.
Learning effective visual representations that generalize well without human supervision is a fundamental problem in order to apply Machine Learning to a wide variety of tasks. Recently, two families of self-supervised methods, contrastive learning and latent bootstrapping, exemplified by SimCLR and BYOL respectively, have made significant progress. In this work, we hypothesize that adding explicit information compression to these algorithms yields better and more robust representations. We verify this by developing SimCLR and BYOL formulations compatible with the Conditional Entropy Bottleneck (CEB) objective, allowing us to both measure and control the amount of compression in the learned representation, and observe their impact on downstream tasks. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between Lipschitz continuity and compression, showing a tractable lower bound on the Lipschitz constant of the encoders we learn. As Lipschitz continuity is closely related to robustness, this provides a new explanation for why compressed models are more robust. Our experiments confirm that adding compression to SimCLR and BYOL significantly improves linear evaluation accuracies and model robustness across a wide range of domain shifts. In particular, the compressed version of BYOL achieves 76.0% Top-1 linear evaluation accuracy on ImageNet with ResNet-50, and 78.8% with ResNet-50 2x.
In discriminative settings such as regression and classification there are two random variables at play, the inputs X and the targets Y. Here, we demonstrate that the Variational Information Bottleneck can be viewed as a compromise between fully empirical and fully Bayesian objectives, attempting to minimize the risks due to finite sampling of Y only. We argue that this approach provides some of the benefits of Bayes while requiring only some of the work.
The Predictive Information is the mutual information between the past and the future, I(X_past; X_future). We hypothesize that capturing the predictive information is useful in RL, since the ability to model what will happen next is necessary for success on many tasks. To test our hypothesis, we train Soft Actor-Critic (SAC) agents from pixels with an auxiliary task that learns a compressed representation of the predictive information of the RL environment dynamics using a contrastive version of the Conditional Entropy Bottleneck (CEB) objective. We refer to these as Predictive Information SAC (PI-SAC) agents. We show that PI-SAC agents can substantially improve sample efficiency over challenging baselines on tasks from the DM Control suite of continuous control environments. We evaluate PI-SAC agents by comparing against uncompressed PI-SAC agents, other compressed and uncompressed agents, and SAC agents directly trained from pixels.
In the causal learning setting, we wish to learn cause-and-effect relationships between variables such that we can correctly infer the effect of an intervention. While the difference between a cyclic structure and an acyclic structure may be just a single edge, cyclic causal structures have qualitatively different behavior under intervention: cycles cause feedback loops when the downstream effect of an intervention propagates back to the source variable. We present three theoretical observations about probability distributions with self-referential factorizations, i.e. distributions that could be graphically represented with a cycle. First, we prove that self-referential distributions in two variables are, in fact, independent. Second, we prove that self-referential distributions in N variables have zero mutual information. Lastly, we prove that self-referential distributions that factorize in a cycle, also factorize as though the cycle were reversed. These results suggest that cyclic causal dependence may exist even where observational data suggest independence among variables. Methods based on estimating mutual information, or heuristics based on independent causal mechanisms, are likely to fail to learn cyclic casual structures. We encourage future work in causal learning that carefully considers cycles.
Tractable models of human perception have proved to be challenging to build. Hand-designed models such as MS-SSIM remain popular predictors of human image quality judgements due to their simplicity and speed. Recent modern deep learning approaches can perform better, but they rely on supervised data which can be costly to gather: large sets of class labels such as ImageNet, image quality ratings, or both. We combine recent advances in information-theoretic objective functions with a computational architecture informed by the physiology of the human visual system and unsupervised training on pairs of video frames, yielding our Perceptual Information Metric (PIM). We show that PIM is competitive with supervised metrics on the recent and challenging BAPPS image quality assessment dataset. We also perform qualitative experiments using the ImageNet-C dataset, and establish that our approach is robust with respect to architectural details.