Can a quadrupedal robot perform bipedal motions like humans? Although developing human-like behaviors is more often studied on costly bipedal robot platforms, we present a solution over a lightweight quadrupedal robot that unlocks the agility of the quadruped in an upright standing pose and is capable of a variety of human-like motions. Our framework is with a bi-level structure. At the low level is a motion-conditioned control policy that allows the quadrupedal robot to track desired base and front limb movements while balancing on two hind feet. The policy is commanded by a high-level motion generator that gives trajectories of parameterized human-like motions to the robot from multiple modalities of human input. We for the first time demonstrate various bipedal motions on a quadrupedal robot, and showcase interesting human-robot interaction modes including mimicking human videos, following natural language instructions, and physical interaction.
In complex reinforcement learning (RL) problems, policies with similar rewards may have substantially different behaviors. It remains a fundamental challenge to optimize rewards while also discovering as many diverse strategies as possible, which can be crucial in many practical applications. Our study examines two design choices for tackling this challenge, i.e., diversity measure and computation framework. First, we find that with existing diversity measures, visually indistinguishable policies can still yield high diversity scores. To accurately capture the behavioral difference, we propose to incorporate the state-space distance information into the diversity measure. In addition, we examine two common computation frameworks for this problem, i.e., population-based training (PBT) and iterative learning (ITR). We show that although PBT is the precise problem formulation, ITR can achieve comparable diversity scores with higher computation efficiency, leading to improved solution quality in practice. Based on our analysis, we further combine ITR with two tractable realizations of the state-distance-based diversity measures and develop a novel diversity-driven RL algorithm, State-based Intrinsic-reward Policy Optimization (SIPO), with provable convergence properties. We empirically examine SIPO across three domains from robot locomotion to multi-agent games. In all of our testing environments, SIPO consistently produces strategically diverse and human-interpretable policies that cannot be discovered by existing baselines.
The ever-growing complexity of reinforcement learning (RL) tasks demands a distributed RL system to efficiently generate and process a massive amount of data to train intelligent agents. However, existing open-source libraries suffer from various limitations, which impede their practical use in challenging scenarios where large-scale training is necessary. While industrial systems from OpenAI and DeepMind have achieved successful large-scale RL training, their system architecture and implementation details remain undisclosed to the community. In this paper, we present a novel abstraction on the dataflows of RL training, which unifies practical RL training across diverse applications into a general framework and enables fine-grained optimizations. Following this abstraction, we develop a scalable, efficient, and extensible distributed RL system called ReaLly Scalable RL (SRL). The system architecture of SRL separates major RL computation components and allows massively parallelized training. Moreover, SRL offers user-friendly and extensible interfaces for customized algorithms. Our evaluation shows that SRL outperforms existing academic libraries in both a single machine and a medium-sized cluster. In a large-scale cluster, the novel architecture of SRL leads to up to 3.7x speedup compared to the design choices adopted by the existing libraries. We also conduct a direct benchmark comparison to OpenAI's industrial system, Rapid, in the challenging hide-and-seek environment. SRL reproduces the same solution as reported by OpenAI with up to 5x speedup in wall-clock time. Furthermore, we also examine the performance of SRL in a much harder variant of the hide-and-seek environment and achieve substantial learning speedup by scaling SRL to over 15k CPU cores and 32 A100 GPUs. Notably, SRL is the first in the academic community to perform RL experiments at such a large scale.
Many advances in cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) are based on two common design principles: value decomposition and parameter sharing. A typical MARL algorithm of this fashion decomposes a centralized Q-function into local Q-networks with parameters shared across agents. Such an algorithmic paradigm enables centralized training and decentralized execution (CTDE) and leads to efficient learning in practice. Despite all the advantages, we revisit these two principles and show that in certain scenarios, e.g., environments with a highly multi-modal reward landscape, value decomposition, and parameter sharing can be problematic and lead to undesired outcomes. In contrast, policy gradient (PG) methods with individual policies provably converge to an optimal solution in these cases, which partially supports some recent empirical observations that PG can be effective in many MARL testbeds. Inspired by our theoretical analysis, we present practical suggestions on implementing multi-agent PG algorithms for either high rewards or diverse emergent behaviors and empirically validate our findings on a variety of domains, ranging from the simplified matrix and grid-world games to complex benchmarks such as StarCraft Multi-Agent Challenge and Google Research Football. We hope our insights could benefit the community towards developing more general and more powerful MARL algorithms. Check our project website at https://sites.google.com/view/revisiting-marl.
* 15 pages, published as a conference paper in ICML 2022
We present Reward-Switching Policy Optimization (RSPO), a paradigm to discover diverse strategies in complex RL environments by iteratively finding novel policies that are both locally optimal and sufficiently different from existing ones. To encourage the learning policy to consistently converge towards a previously undiscovered local optimum, RSPO switches between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards via a trajectory-based novelty measurement during the optimization process. When a sampled trajectory is sufficiently distinct, RSPO performs standard policy optimization with extrinsic rewards. For trajectories with high likelihood under existing policies, RSPO utilizes an intrinsic diversity reward to promote exploration. Experiments show that RSPO is able to discover a wide spectrum of strategies in a variety of domains, ranging from single-agent particle-world tasks and MuJoCo continuous control to multi-agent stag-hunt games and StarCraftII challenges.
* 30 pages, 15 figures, published as a conference paper at ICLR 2022
AI software is still software. Software engineers need better tools to make better use of AI software. For example, for software defect prediction and software text mining, the default tunings for software analytics tools can be improved with "hyperparameter optimization" tools that decide (e.g.,) how many trees are needed in a random forest. Hyperparameter optimization is unnecessarily slow when optimizers waste time exploring redundant options (i.e., pairs of tunings with indistinguishably different results). By ignoring redundant tunings, the Dodge(E) hyperparameter optimization tool can run orders of magnitude faster, yet still find better tunings than prior state-of-the-art algorithms (for software defect prediction and software text mining).
Context: Topic modeling finds human-readable structures in unstructured textual data. A widely used topic modeler is Latent Dirichlet allocation. When run on different datasets, LDA suffers from "order effects" i.e. different topics are generated if the order of training data is shuffled. Such order effects introduce a systematic error for any study. This error can relate to misleading results;specifically, inaccurate topic descriptions and a reduction in the efficacy of text mining classification results. Objective: To provide a method in which distributions generated by LDA are more stable and can be used for further analysis. Method: We use LDADE, a search-based software engineering tool that tunes LDA's parameters using DE (Differential Evolution). LDADE is evaluated on data from a programmer information exchange site (Stackoverflow), title and abstract text of thousands ofSoftware Engineering (SE) papers, and software defect reports from NASA. Results were collected across different implementations of LDA (Python+Scikit-Learn, Scala+Spark); across different platforms (Linux, Macintosh) and for different kinds of LDAs (VEM,or using Gibbs sampling). Results were scored via topic stability and text mining classification accuracy. Results: In all treatments: (i) standard LDA exhibits very large topic instability; (ii) LDADE's tunings dramatically reduce cluster instability; (iii) LDADE also leads to improved performances for supervised as well as unsupervised learning. Conclusion: Due to topic instability, using standard LDA with its "off-the-shelf" settings should now be depreciated. Also, in future, we should require SE papers that use LDA to test and (if needed) mitigate LDA topic instability. Finally, LDADE is a candidate technology for effectively and efficiently reducing that instability.
* Information and Software Technology Journal, 2018 * 15 pages + 2 page references. Accepted to IST
Deep learning methods are useful for high-dimensional data and are becoming widely used in many areas of software engineering. Deep learners utilizes extensive computational power and can take a long time to train-- making it difficult to widely validate and repeat and improve their results. Further, they are not the best solution in all domains. For example, recent results show that for finding related Stack Overflow posts, a tuned SVM performs similarly to a deep learner, but is significantly faster to train. This paper extends that recent result by clustering the dataset, then tuning very learners within each cluster. This approach is over 500 times faster than deep learning (and over 900 times faster if we use all the cores on a standard laptop computer). Significantly, this faster approach generates classifiers nearly as good (within 2\% F1 Score) as the much slower deep learning method. Hence we recommend this faster methods since it is much easier to reproduce and utilizes far fewer CPU resources. More generally, we recommend that before researchers release research results, that they compare their supposedly sophisticated methods against simpler alternatives (e.g applying simpler learners to build local models).
Collecting quality data from software projects can be time-consuming and expensive. Hence, some researchers explore "unsupervised" approaches to quality prediction that does not require labelled data. An alternate technique is to use "supervised" approaches that learn models from project data labelled with, say, "defective" or "not-defective". Most researchers use these supervised models since, it is argued, they can exploit more knowledge of the projects. At FSE'16, Yang et al. reported startling results where unsupervised defect predictors outperformed supervised predictors for effort-aware just-in-time defect prediction. If confirmed, these results would lead to a dramatic simplification of a seemingly complex task (data mining) that is widely explored in the software engineering literature. This paper repeats and refutes those results as follows. (1) There is much variability in the efficacy of the Yang et al. predictors so even with their approach, some supervised data is required to prune weaker predictors away. (2)Their findings were grouped across $N$ projects. When we repeat their analysis on a project-by-project basis, supervised predictors are seen to work better. Even though this paper rejects the specific conclusions of Yang et al., we still endorse their general goal. In our our experiments, supervised predictors did not perform outstandingly better than unsupervised ones for effort-aware just-in-time defect prediction. Hence, they may indeed be some combination of unsupervised learners to achieve comparable performance to supervised ones. We therefore encourage others to work in this promising area.