Fast Task Inference with Variational Intrinsic Successor Features

Steven Hansen, Will Dabney, Andre Barreto, David Warde-Farley, Tom Van de Wiele, Volodymyr Mnih

Keywords: generalization, reinforcement learning, unsupervised

Thursday: Continual Learning and Few Shot Learning

Abstract: It has been established that diverse behaviors spanning the controllable subspace of a Markov decision process can be trained by rewarding a policy for being distinguishable from other policies. However, one limitation of this formulation is the difficulty to generalize beyond the finite set of behaviors being explicitly learned, as may be needed in subsequent tasks. Successor features provide an appealing solution to this generalization problem, but require defining the reward function as linear in some grounded feature space. In this paper, we show that these two techniques can be combined, and that each method solves the other's primary limitation. To do so we introduce Variational Intrinsic Successor FeatuRes (VISR), a novel algorithm which learns controllable features that can be leveraged to provide enhanced generalization and fast task inference through the successor features framework. We empirically validate VISR on the full Atari suite, in a novel setup wherein the rewards are only exposed briefly after a long unsupervised phase. Achieving human-level performance on 12 games and beating all baselines, we believe VISR represents a step towards agents that rapidly learn from limited feedback.

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