Get our free extension to see links to code for papers anywhere online!Free add-on: code for papers everywhere!Free add-on: See code for papers anywhere!

Recent semi-supervised object detection (SSOD) has achieved remarkable progress by leveraging unlabeled data for training. Mainstream SSOD methods rely on Consistency Regularization methods and Exponential Moving Average (EMA), which form a cyclic data flow. However, the EMA updating training approach leads to weight coupling between the teacher and student models. This coupling in a cyclic data flow results in a decrease in the utilization of unlabeled data information and the confirmation bias on low-quality or erroneous pseudo-labels. To address these issues, we propose the Collaboration of Teachers Framework (CTF), which consists of multiple pairs of teacher and student models for training. In the learning process of CTF, the Data Performance Consistency Optimization module (DPCO) informs the best pair of teacher models possessing the optimal pseudo-labels during the past training process, and these most reliable pseudo-labels generated by the best performing teacher would guide the other student models. As a consequence, this framework greatly improves the utilization of unlabeled data and prevents the positive feedback cycle of unreliable pseudo-labels. The CTF achieves outstanding results on numerous SSOD datasets, including a 0.71% mAP improvement on the 10% annotated COCO dataset and a 0.89% mAP improvement on the VOC dataset compared to LabelMatch and converges significantly faster. Moreover, the CTF is plug-and-play and can be integrated with other mainstream SSOD methods.

Via

Recent advances in reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms aim to enhance the performance of language models at scale. Yet, there is a noticeable absence of a cost-effective and standardized testbed tailored to evaluating and comparing these algorithms. To bridge this gap, we present a generalized version of the 24-Puzzle: the $(N,K)$-Puzzle, which challenges language models to reach a target value $K$ with $N$ integers. We evaluate the effectiveness of established RL algorithms such as Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO), alongside novel approaches like Identity Policy Optimization (IPO) and Direct Policy Optimization (DPO).

Via

Program synthesis aims to create accurate, executable code from natural language descriptions. This field has leveraged the power of reinforcement learning (RL) in conjunction with large language models (LLMs), significantly enhancing code generation capabilities. This integration focuses on directly optimizing functional correctness, transcending conventional supervised losses. While current literature predominantly favors policy-based algorithms, attributes of program synthesis suggest a natural compatibility with value-based methods. This stems from rich collection of off-policy programs developed by human programmers, and the straightforward verification of generated programs through automated unit testing (i.e. easily obtainable rewards in RL language). Diverging from the predominant use of policy-based algorithms, our work explores the applicability of value-based approaches, leading to the development of our $\mathcal{B}$-Coder (pronounced Bellman coder). Yet, training value-based methods presents challenges due to the enormous search space inherent to program synthesis. To this end, we propose an initialization protocol for RL agents utilizing pre-trained LMs and a conservative Bellman operator to reduce training complexities. Moreover, we demonstrate how to leverage the learned value functions as a dual strategy to post-process generated programs. Our empirical evaluations demonstrated $\mathcal{B}$-Coder's capability in achieving state-of-the-art performance compared with policy-based methods. Remarkably, this achievement is reached with minimal reward engineering effort, highlighting the effectiveness of value-based RL, independent of reward designs.

Via

We study the autonomous exploration (AX) problem proposed by Lim & Auer (2012). In this setting, the objective is to discover a set of $\epsilon$-optimal policies reaching a set $\mathcal{S}_L^{\rightarrow}$ of incrementally $L$-controllable states. We introduce a novel layered decomposition of the set of incrementally $L$-controllable states that is based on the iterative application of a state-expansion operator. We leverage these results to design Layered Autonomous Exploration (LAE), a novel algorithm for AX that attains a sample complexity of $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(LS^{\rightarrow}_{L(1+\epsilon)}\Gamma_{L(1+\epsilon)} A \ln^{12}(S^{\rightarrow}_{L(1+\epsilon)})/\epsilon^2)$, where $S^{\rightarrow}_{L(1+\epsilon)}$ is the number of states that are incrementally $L(1+\epsilon)$-controllable, $A$ is the number of actions, and $\Gamma_{L(1+\epsilon)}$ is the branching factor of the transitions over such states. LAE improves over the algorithm of Tarbouriech et al. (2020a) by a factor of $L^2$ and it is the first algorithm for AX that works in a countably-infinite state space. Moreover, we show that, under a certain identifiability assumption, LAE achieves minimax-optimal sample complexity of $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(LS^{\rightarrow}_{L}A\ln^{12}(S^{\rightarrow}_{L})/\epsilon^2)$, outperforming existing algorithms and matching for the first time the lower bound proved by Cai et al. (2022) up to logarithmic factors.

Via

We study the sample complexity of learning an $\epsilon$-optimal policy in the Stochastic Shortest Path (SSP) problem. We first derive sample complexity bounds when the learner has access to a generative model. We show that there exists a worst-case SSP instance with $S$ states, $A$ actions, minimum cost $c_{\min}$, and maximum expected cost of the optimal policy over all states $B_{\star}$, where any algorithm requires at least $\Omega(SAB_{\star}^3/(c_{\min}\epsilon^2))$ samples to return an $\epsilon$-optimal policy with high probability. Surprisingly, this implies that whenever $c_{\min}=0$ an SSP problem may not be learnable, thus revealing that learning in SSPs is strictly harder than in the finite-horizon and discounted settings. We complement this result with lower bounds when prior knowledge of the hitting time of the optimal policy is available and when we restrict optimality by competing against policies with bounded hitting time. Finally, we design an algorithm with matching upper bounds in these cases. This settles the sample complexity of learning $\epsilon$-optimal polices in SSP with generative models. We also initiate the study of learning $\epsilon$-optimal policies without access to a generative model (i.e., the so-called best-policy identification problem), and show that sample-efficient learning is impossible in general. On the other hand, efficient learning can be made possible if we assume the agent can directly reach the goal state from any state by paying a fixed cost. We then establish the first upper and lower bounds under this assumption. Finally, using similar analytic tools, we prove that horizon-free regret is impossible in SSPs under general costs, resolving an open problem in (Tarbouriech et al., 2021c).

Via

We consider regret minimization for Adversarial Markov Decision Processes (AMDPs), where the loss functions are changing over time and adversarially chosen, and the learner only observes the losses for the visited state-action pairs (i.e., bandit feedback). While there has been a surge of studies on this problem using Online-Mirror-Descent (OMD) methods, very little is known about the Follow-the-Perturbed-Leader (FTPL) methods, which are usually computationally more efficient and also easier to implement since it only requires solving an offline planning problem. Motivated by this, we take a closer look at FTPL for learning AMDPs, starting from the standard episodic finite-horizon setting. We find some unique and intriguing difficulties in the analysis and propose a workaround to eventually show that FTPL is also able to achieve near-optimal regret bounds in this case. More importantly, we then find two significant applications: First, the analysis of FTPL turns out to be readily generalizable to delayed bandit feedback with order-optimal regret, while OMD methods exhibit extra difficulties (Jin et al., 2022). Second, using FTPL, we also develop the first no-regret algorithm for learning communicating AMDPs in the infinite-horizon setting with bandit feedback and stochastic transitions. Our algorithm is efficient assuming access to an offline planning oracle, while even for the easier full-information setting, the only existing algorithm (Chandrasekaran and Tewari, 2021) is computationally inefficient.

Via

We initiate the study of dynamic regret minimization for goal-oriented reinforcement learning modeled by a non-stationary stochastic shortest path problem with changing cost and transition functions. We start by establishing a lower bound $\Omega((B_{\star} SAT_{\star}(\Delta_c + B_{\star}^2\Delta_P))^{1/3}K^{2/3})$, where $B_{\star}$ is the maximum expected cost of the optimal policy of any episode starting from any state, $T_{\star}$ is the maximum hitting time of the optimal policy of any episode starting from the initial state, $SA$ is the number of state-action pairs, $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$ are the amount of changes of the cost and transition functions respectively, and $K$ is the number of episodes. The different roles of $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$ in this lower bound inspire us to design algorithms that estimate costs and transitions separately. Specifically, assuming the knowledge of $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$, we develop a simple but sub-optimal algorithm and another more involved minimax optimal algorithm (up to logarithmic terms). These algorithms combine the ideas of finite-horizon approximation [Chen et al., 2022a], special Bernstein-style bonuses of the MVP algorithm [Zhang et al., 2020], adaptive confidence widening [Wei and Luo, 2021], as well as some new techniques such as properly penalizing long-horizon policies. Finally, when $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$ are unknown, we develop a variant of the MASTER algorithm [Wei and Luo, 2021] and integrate the aforementioned ideas into it to achieve $\widetilde{O}(\min\{B_{\star} S\sqrt{ALK}, (B_{\star}^2S^2AT_{\star}(\Delta_c+B_{\star}\Delta_P))^{1/3}K^{2/3}\})$ regret, where $L$ is the unknown number of changes of the environment.

Via

Reinforcement learning constantly deals with hard integrals, for example when computing expectations in policy evaluation and policy iteration. These integrals are rarely analytically solvable and typically estimated with the Monte Carlo method, which induces high variance in policy values and gradients. In this work, we propose to replace Monte Carlo samples with low-discrepancy point sets. We combine policy gradient methods with Randomized Quasi-Monte Carlo, yielding variance-reduced formulations of policy gradient and actor-critic algorithms. These formulations are effective for policy evaluation and policy improvement, as they outperform state-of-the-art algorithms on standardized continuous control benchmarks. Our empirical analyses validate the intuition that replacing Monte Carlo with Quasi-Monte Carlo yields significantly more accurate gradient estimates.

Via

Policy optimization is among the most popular and successful reinforcement learning algorithms, and there is increasing interest in understanding its theoretical guarantees. In this work, we initiate the study of policy optimization for the stochastic shortest path (SSP) problem, a goal-oriented reinforcement learning model that strictly generalizes the finite-horizon model and better captures many applications. We consider a wide range of settings, including stochastic and adversarial environments under full information or bandit feedback, and propose a policy optimization algorithm for each setting that makes use of novel correction terms and/or variants of dilated bonuses (Luo et al., 2021). For most settings, our algorithm is shown to achieve a near-optimal regret bound. One key technical contribution of this work is a new approximation scheme to tackle SSP problems that we call \textit{stacked discounted approximation} and use in all our proposed algorithms. Unlike the finite-horizon approximation that is heavily used in recent SSP algorithms, our new approximation enables us to learn a near-stationary policy with only logarithmic changes during an episode and could lead to an exponential improvement in space complexity.

Via

We study regret minimization for infinite-horizon average-reward Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) under cost constraints. We start by designing a policy optimization algorithm with carefully designed action-value estimator and bonus term, and show that for ergodic MDPs, our algorithm ensures $\widetilde{O}(\sqrt{T})$ regret and constant constraint violation, where $T$ is the total number of time steps. This strictly improves over the algorithm of (Singh et al., 2020), whose regret and constraint violation are both $\widetilde{O}(T^{2/3})$. Next, we consider the most general class of weakly communicating MDPs. Through a finite-horizon approximation, we develop another algorithm with $\widetilde{O}(T^{2/3})$ regret and constraint violation, which can be further improved to $\widetilde{O}(\sqrt{T})$ via a simple modification, albeit making the algorithm computationally inefficient. As far as we know, these are the first set of provable algorithms for weakly communicating MDPs with cost constraints.

Via