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Consciousness-Inspired Spatio-Temporal Abstractions for Better Generalization in Reinforcement Learning

Mingde Zhao · Safa Alver · Harm Seijen · Romain Laroche · Doina Precup · Yoshua Bengio

Halle B #164
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Thu 9 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Inspired by human conscious planning, we propose Skipper, a model-based reinforcement learning framework utilizing spatio-temporal abstractions to generalize better in novel situations. It automatically decomposes the given task into smaller, more manageable subtasks, and thus enables sparse decision-making and focused computation on the relevant parts of the environment. The decomposition relies on the extraction of an abstracted proxy problem represented as a directed graph, in which vertices and edges are learned end-to-end from hindsight. Our theoretical analyses provide performance guarantees under appropriate assumptions and establish where our approach is expected to be helpful. Generalization-focused experiments validate Skipper’s significant advantage in zero-shot generalization, compared to some existing state-of-the-art hierarchical planning methods.

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