Zero-sum Markov Games (MGs) has been an efficient framework for multi-agent systems and robust control, wherein a minimax problem is constructed to solve the equilibrium policies. At present, this formulation is well studied under tabular settings wherein the maximum operator is primarily and exactly solved to calculate the worst-case value function. However, it is non-trivial to extend such methods to handle complex tasks, as finding the maximum over large-scale action spaces is usually cumbersome. In this paper, we propose the smoothing policy iteration (SPI) algorithm to solve the zero-sum MGs approximately, where the maximum operator is replaced by the weighted LogSumExp (WLSE) function to obtain the nearly optimal equilibrium policies. Specially, the adversarial policy is served as the weight function to enable an efficient sampling over action spaces.We also prove the convergence of SPI and analyze its approximation error in $\infty -$norm based on the contraction mapping theorem. Besides, we propose a model-based algorithm called Smooth adversarial Actor-critic (SaAC) by extending SPI with the function approximations. The target value related to WLSE function is evaluated by the sampled trajectories and then mean square error is constructed to optimize the value function, and the gradient-ascent-descent methods are adopted to optimize the protagonist and adversarial policies jointly. In addition, we incorporate the reparameterization technique in model-based gradient back-propagation to prevent the gradient vanishing due to sampling from the stochastic policies. We verify our algorithm in both tabular and function approximation settings. Results show that SPI can approximate the worst-case value function with a high accuracy and SaAC can stabilize the training process and improve the adversarial robustness in a large margin.
Automatic surgical gesture recognition is a prerequisite of intra-operative computer assistance and objective surgical skill assessment. Prior works either require additional sensors to collect kinematics data or have limitations on capturing temporal information from long and untrimmed surgical videos. To tackle these challenges, we propose a novel temporal convolutional architecture to automatically detect and segment surgical gestures with corresponding boundaries only using RGB videos. We devise our method with a symmetric dilation structure bridged by a self-attention module to encode and decode the long-term temporal patterns and establish the frame-to-frame relationship accordingly. We validate the effectiveness of our approach on a fundamental robotic suturing task from the JIGSAWS dataset. The experiment results demonstrate the ability of our method on capturing long-term frame dependencies, which largely outperform the state-of-the-art methods on the frame-wise accuracy up to ~6 points and the F1@50 score ~6 points.