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Abstract:This paper introduces Bayesian Flow Networks (BFNs), a new class of generative model in which the parameters of a set of independent distributions are modified with Bayesian inference in the light of noisy data samples, then passed as input to a neural network that outputs a second, interdependent distribution. Starting from a simple prior and iteratively updating the two distributions yields a generative procedure similar to the reverse process of diffusion models; however it is conceptually simpler in that no forward process is required. Discrete and continuous-time loss functions are derived for continuous, discretised and discrete data, along with sample generation procedures. Notably, the network inputs for discrete data lie on the probability simplex, and are therefore natively differentiable, paving the way for gradient-based sample guidance and few-step generation in discrete domains such as language modelling. The loss function directly optimises data compression and places no restrictions on the network architecture. In our experiments BFNs achieve competitive log-likelihoods for image modelling on dynamically binarized MNIST and CIFAR-10, and outperform all known discrete diffusion models on the text8 character-level language modelling task.

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Abstract:We consider the problem of generative modeling based on smoothing an unknown density of interest in $\mathbb{R}^d$ using factorial kernels with $M$ independent Gaussian channels with equal noise levels introduced by Saremi and Srivastava (2022). First, we fully characterize the time complexity of learning the resulting smoothed density in $\mathbb{R}^{Md}$, called M-density, by deriving a universal form for its parametrization in which the score function is by construction permutation equivariant. Next, we study the time complexity of sampling an M-density by analyzing its condition number for Gaussian distributions. This spectral analysis gives a geometric insight on the "shape" of M-densities as one increases $M$. Finally, we present results on the sample quality in this class of generative models on the CIFAR-10 dataset where we report Fr\'echet inception distances (14.15), notably obtained with a single noise level on long-run fast-mixing MCMC chains.

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Authors:Nihat Engin Toklu, Timothy Atkinson, Vojtěch Micka, Paweł Liskowski, Rupesh Kumar Srivastava

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Abstract:Evolutionary computation is an important component within various fields such as artificial intelligence research, reinforcement learning, robotics, industrial automation and/or optimization, engineering design, etc. Considering the increasing computational demands and the dimensionalities of modern optimization problems, the requirement for scalable, re-usable, and practical evolutionary algorithm implementations has been growing. To address this requirement, we present EvoTorch: an evolutionary computation library designed to work with high-dimensional optimization problems, with GPU support and with high parallelization capabilities. EvoTorch is based on and seamlessly works with the PyTorch library, and therefore, allows the users to define their optimization problems using a well-known API.

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Authors:Miroslav Štrupl, Francesco Faccio, Dylan R. Ashley, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Rupesh Kumar Srivastava

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Abstract:Upside-Down Reinforcement Learning (UDRL) is an approach for solving RL problems that does not require value functions and uses only supervised learning, where the targets for given inputs in a dataset do not change over time. Ghosh et al. proved that Goal-Conditional Supervised Learning (GCSL) -- which can be viewed as a simplified version of UDRL -- optimizes a lower bound on goal-reaching performance. This raises expectations that such algorithms may enjoy guaranteed convergence to the optimal policy in arbitrary environments, similar to certain well-known traditional RL algorithms. Here we show that for a specific episodic UDRL algorithm (eUDRL, including GCSL), this is not the case, and give the causes of this limitation. To do so, we first introduce a helpful rewrite of eUDRL as a recursive policy update. This formulation helps to disprove its convergence to the optimal policy for a wide class of stochastic environments. Finally, we provide a concrete example of a very simple environment where eUDRL diverges. Since the primary aim of this paper is to present a negative result, and the best counterexamples are the simplest ones, we restrict all discussions to finite (discrete) environments, ignoring issues of function approximation and limited sample size.

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Abstract:Lately, there has been a resurgence of interest in using supervised learning to solve reinforcement learning problems. Recent work in this area has largely focused on learning command-conditioned policies. We investigate the potential of one such method -- upside-down reinforcement learning -- to work with commands that specify a desired relationship between some scalar value and the observed return. We show that upside-down reinforcement learning can learn to carry out such commands online in a tabular bandit setting and in CartPole with non-linear function approximation. By doing so, we demonstrate the power of this family of methods and open the way for their practical use under more complicated command structures.

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Abstract:We formally map the problem of sampling from an unknown distribution with density $p_X$ in $\mathbb{R}^d$ to the problem of learning and sampling $p_\mathbf{Y}$ in $\mathbb{R}^{Md}$ obtained by convolving $p_X$ with a fixed factorial kernel: $p_\mathbf{Y}$ is referred to as M-density and the factorial kernel as multimeasurement noise model (MNM). The M-density is smoother than $p_X$, easier to learn and sample from, yet for large $M$ the two problems are mathematically equivalent since $X$ can be estimated exactly given $\mathbf{Y}=\mathbf{y}$ using the Bayes estimator $\widehat{x}(\mathbf{y})=\mathbb{E}[X\vert\mathbf{Y}=\mathbf{y}]$. To formulate the problem, we derive $\widehat{x}(\mathbf{y})$ for Poisson and Gaussian MNMs expressed in closed form in terms of unnormalized $p_\mathbf{Y}$. This leads to a simple least-squares objective for learning parametric energy and score functions. We present various parametrization schemes of interest, including one in which studying Gaussian M-densities directly leads to multidenoising autoencoders--this is the first theoretical connection made between denoising autoencoders and empirical Bayes in the literature. Samples from $p_X$ are obtained by walk-jump sampling (Saremi & Hyvarinen, 2019) via underdamped Langevin MCMC (walk) to sample from $p_\mathbf{Y}$ and the multimeasurement Bayes estimation of $X$ (jump). We study permutation invariant Gaussian M-densities on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and FFHQ-256 datasets, and demonstrate the effectiveness of this framework for realizing fast-mixing stable Markov chains in high dimensions.

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Authors:Miroslav Štrupl, Francesco Faccio, Dylan R. Ashley, Rupesh Kumar Srivastava, Jürgen Schmidhuber

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Abstract:Reward-Weighted Regression (RWR) belongs to a family of widely known iterative Reinforcement Learning algorithms based on the Expectation-Maximization framework. In this family, learning at each iteration consists of sampling a batch of trajectories using the current policy and fitting a new policy to maximize a return-weighted log-likelihood of actions. Although RWR is known to yield monotonic improvement of the policy under certain circumstances, whether and under which conditions RWR converges to the optimal policy have remained open questions. In this paper, we provide for the first time a proof that RWR converges to a global optimum when no function approximation is used.

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Abstract:Distribution-based search algorithms are an effective approach for evolutionary reinforcement learning of neural network controllers. In these algorithms, gradients of the total reward with respect to the policy parameters are estimated using a population of solutions drawn from a search distribution, and then used for policy optimization with stochastic gradient ascent. A common choice in the community is to use the Adam optimization algorithm for obtaining an adaptive behavior during gradient ascent, due to its success in a variety of supervised learning settings. As an alternative to Adam, we propose to enhance classical momentum-based gradient ascent with two simple techniques: gradient normalization and update clipping. We argue that the resulting optimizer called ClipUp (short for "clipped updates") is a better choice for distribution-based policy evolution because its working principles are simple and easy to understand and its hyperparameters can be tuned more intuitively in practice. Moreover, it removes the need to re-tune hyperparameters if the reward scale changes. Experiments show that ClipUp is competitive with Adam despite its simplicity and is effective on challenging continuous control benchmarks, including the Humanoid control task based on the Bullet physics simulator.

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Abstract:Traditional Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms either predict rewards with value functions or maximize them using policy search. We study an alternative: Upside-Down Reinforcement Learning (Upside-Down RL or UDRL), that solves RL problems primarily using supervised learning techniques. Many of its main principles are outlined in a companion report [34]. Here we present the first concrete implementation of UDRL and demonstrate its feasibility on certain episodic learning problems. Experimental results show that its performance can be surprisingly competitive with, and even exceed that of traditional baseline algorithms developed over decades of research.

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Authors:Łukasz Kidziński, Carmichael Ong, Sharada Prasanna Mohanty, Jennifer Hicks, Sean F. Carroll, Bo Zhou, Hongsheng Zeng, Fan Wang, Rongzhong Lian, Hao Tian(+40 more)

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Abstract:In the NeurIPS 2018 Artificial Intelligence for Prosthetics challenge, participants were tasked with building a controller for a musculoskeletal model with a goal of matching a given time-varying velocity vector. Top participants were invited to describe their algorithms. In this work, we describe the challenge and present thirteen solutions that used deep reinforcement learning approaches. Many solutions use similar relaxations and heuristics, such as reward shaping, frame skipping, discretization of the action space, symmetry, and policy blending. However, each team implemented different modifications of the known algorithms by, for example, dividing the task into subtasks, learning low-level control, or by incorporating expert knowledge and using imitation learning.

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