Models, code, and papers for "Timothy P Lillicrap":

We can define a neural network that can learn to recognize objects in less than 100 lines of code. However, after training, it is characterized by millions of weights that contain the knowledge about many object types across visual scenes. Such networks are thus dramatically easier to understand in terms of the code that makes them than the resulting properties, such as tuning or connections. In analogy, we conjecture that rules for development and learning in brains may be far easier to understand than their resulting properties. The analogy suggests that neuroscience would benefit from a focus on learning and development.

There has been a recent trend in training neural networks to replace data structures that have been crafted by hand, with an aim for faster execution, better accuracy, or greater compression. In this setting, a neural data structure is instantiated by training a network over many epochs of its inputs until convergence. In applications where inputs arrive at high throughput, or are ephemeral, training a network from scratch is not practical. This motivates the need for few-shot neural data structures. In this paper we explore the learning of approximate set membership over a set of data in one-shot via meta-learning. We propose a novel memory architecture, the Neural Bloom Filter, which is able to achieve significant compression gains over classical Bloom Filters and existing memory-augmented neural networks.

We study the problem of learning associative memory -- a system which is able to retrieve a remembered pattern based on its distorted or incomplete version. Attractor networks provide a sound model of associative memory: patterns are stored as attractors of the network dynamics and associative retrieval is performed by running the dynamics starting from a query pattern until it converges to an attractor. In such models the dynamics are often implemented as an optimization procedure that minimizes an energy function, such as in the classical Hopfield network. In general it is difficult to derive a writing rule for a given dynamics and energy that is both compressive and fast. Thus, most research in energy-based memory has been limited either to tractable energy models not expressive enough to handle complex high-dimensional objects such as natural images, or to models that do not offer fast writing. We present a novel meta-learning approach to energy-based memory models (EBMM) that allows one to use an arbitrary neural architecture as an energy model and quickly store patterns in its weights. We demonstrate experimentally that our EBMM approach can build compressed memories for synthetic and natural data, and is capable of associative retrieval that outperforms existing memory systems in terms of the reconstruction error and compression rate.

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have made great strides in recent years. An important remaining challenge is the ability to quickly transfer existing skills to novel tasks, and to combine existing skills with newly acquired ones. In domains where tasks are solved by composing skills this capacity holds the promise of dramatically reducing the data requirements of deep RL algorithms, and hence increasing their applicability. Recent work has studied ways of composing behaviors represented in the form of action-value functions. We analyze these methods to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and point out situations where each of them is susceptible to poor performance. To perform this analysis we extend generalized policy improvement to the max-entropy framework and introduce a method for the practical implementation of successor features in continuous action spaces. Then we propose a novel approach which, in principle, recovers the optimal policy during transfer. This method works by explicitly learning the (discounted, future) divergence between policies. We study this approach in the tabular case and propose a scalable variant that is applicable in multi-dimensional continuous action spaces. We compare our approach with existing ones on a range of non-trivial continuous control problems with compositional structure, and demonstrate qualitatively better performance despite not requiring simultaneous observation of all task rewards.

Neural networks trained with backpropagation often struggle to identify classes that have been observed a small number of times. In applications where most class labels are rare, such as language modelling, this can become a performance bottleneck. One potential remedy is to augment the network with a fast-learning non-parametric model which stores recent activations and class labels into an external memory. We explore a simplified architecture where we treat a subset of the model parameters as fast memory stores. This can help retain information over longer time intervals than a traditional memory, and does not require additional space or compute. In the case of image classification, we display faster binding of novel classes on an Omniglot image curriculum task. We also show improved performance for word-based language models on news reports (GigaWord), books (Project Gutenberg) and Wikipedia articles (WikiText-103) --- the latter achieving a state-of-the-art perplexity of 29.2.

Partially observed control problems are a challenging aspect of reinforcement learning. We extend two related, model-free algorithms for continuous control -- deterministic policy gradient and stochastic value gradient -- to solve partially observed domains using recurrent neural networks trained with backpropagation through time. We demonstrate that this approach, coupled with long-short term memory is able to solve a variety of physical control problems exhibiting an assortment of memory requirements. These include the short-term integration of information from noisy sensors and the identification of system parameters, as well as long-term memory problems that require preserving information over many time steps. We also demonstrate success on a combined exploration and memory problem in the form of a simplified version of the well-known Morris water maze task. Finally, we show that our approach can deal with high-dimensional observations by learning directly from pixels. We find that recurrent deterministic and stochastic policies are able to learn similarly good solutions to these tasks, including the water maze where the agent must learn effective search strategies.

Continual learning is the problem of learning new tasks or knowledge while protecting old knowledge and ideally generalizing from old experience to learn new tasks faster. Neural networks trained by stochastic gradient descent often degrade on old tasks when trained successively on new tasks with different data distributions. This phenomenon, referred to as catastrophic forgetting, is considered a major hurdle to learning with non-stationary data or sequences of new tasks, and prevents networks from continually accumulating knowledge and skills. We examine this issue in the context of reinforcement learning, in a setting where an agent is exposed to tasks in a sequence. Unlike most other work, we do not provide an explicit indication to the model of task boundaries, which is the most general circumstance for a learning agent exposed to continuous experience. While various methods to counteract catastrophic forgetting have recently been proposed, we explore a straightforward, general, and seemingly overlooked solution - that of using experience replay buffers for all past events - with a mixture of on- and off-policy learning, leveraging behavioral cloning. We show that this strategy can still learn new tasks quickly yet can substantially reduce catastrophic forgetting in both Atari and DMLab domains, even matching the performance of methods that require task identities. When buffer storage is constrained, we confirm that a simple mechanism for randomly discarding data allows a limited size buffer to perform almost as well as an unbounded one.

The brain processes information through many layers of neurons. This deep architecture is representationally powerful, but it complicates learning by making it hard to identify the responsible neurons when a mistake is made. In machine learning, the backpropagation algorithm assigns blame to a neuron by computing exactly how it contributed to an error. To do this, it multiplies error signals by matrices consisting of all the synaptic weights on the neuron's axon and farther downstream. This operation requires a precisely choreographed transport of synaptic weight information, which is thought to be impossible in the brain. Here we present a surprisingly simple algorithm for deep learning, which assigns blame by multiplying error signals by random synaptic weights. We show that a network can learn to extract useful information from signals sent through these random feedback connections. In essence, the network learns to learn. We demonstrate that this new mechanism performs as quickly and accurately as backpropagation on a variety of problems and describe the principles which underlie its function. Our demonstration provides a plausible basis for how a neuron can be adapted using error signals generated at distal locations in the brain, and thus dispels long-held assumptions about the algorithmic constraints on learning in neural circuits.

Reinforcement learning algorithms use correlations between policies and rewards to improve agent performance. But in dynamic or sparsely rewarding environments these correlations are often too small, or rewarding events are too infrequent to make learning feasible. Human education instead relies on curricula--the breakdown of tasks into simpler, static challenges with dense rewards--to build up to complex behaviors. While curricula are also useful for artificial agents, hand-crafting them is time consuming. This has lead researchers to explore automatic curriculum generation. Here we explore automatic curriculum generation in rich, dynamic environments. Using a setter-solver paradigm we show the importance of considering goal validity, goal feasibility, and goal coverage to construct useful curricula. We demonstrate the success of our approach in rich but sparsely rewarding 2D and 3D environments, where an agent is tasked to achieve a single goal selected from a set of possible goals that varies between episodes, and identify challenges for future work. Finally, we demonstrate the value of a novel technique that guides agents towards a desired goal distribution. Altogether, these results represent a substantial step towards applying automatic task curricula to learn complex, otherwise unlearnable goals, and to our knowledge are the first to demonstrate automated curriculum generation for goal-conditioned agents in environments where the possible goals vary between episodes.

We learn recurrent neural network optimizers trained on simple synthetic functions by gradient descent. We show that these learned optimizers exhibit a remarkable degree of transfer in that they can be used to efficiently optimize a broad range of derivative-free black-box functions, including Gaussian process bandits, simple control objectives, global optimization benchmarks and hyper-parameter tuning tasks. Up to the training horizon, the learned optimizers learn to trade-off exploration and exploitation, and compare favourably with heavily engineered Bayesian optimization packages for hyper-parameter tuning.

We propose a conceptually simple and lightweight framework for deep reinforcement learning that uses asynchronous gradient descent for optimization of deep neural network controllers. We present asynchronous variants of four standard reinforcement learning algorithms and show that parallel actor-learners have a stabilizing effect on training allowing all four methods to successfully train neural network controllers. The best performing method, an asynchronous variant of actor-critic, surpasses the current state-of-the-art on the Atari domain while training for half the time on a single multi-core CPU instead of a GPU. Furthermore, we show that asynchronous actor-critic succeeds on a wide variety of continuous motor control problems as well as on a new task of navigating random 3D mazes using a visual input.

We adapt the ideas underlying the success of Deep Q-Learning to the continuous action domain. We present an actor-critic, model-free algorithm based on the deterministic policy gradient that can operate over continuous action spaces. Using the same learning algorithm, network architecture and hyper-parameters, our algorithm robustly solves more than 20 simulated physics tasks, including classic problems such as cartpole swing-up, dexterous manipulation, legged locomotion and car driving. Our algorithm is able to find policies whose performance is competitive with those found by a planning algorithm with full access to the dynamics of the domain and its derivatives. We further demonstrate that for many of the tasks the algorithm can learn policies end-to-end: directly from raw pixel inputs.

Neural networks augmented with external memory have the ability to learn algorithmic solutions to complex tasks. These models appear promising for applications such as language modeling and machine translation. However, they scale poorly in both space and time as the amount of memory grows --- limiting their applicability to real-world domains. Here, we present an end-to-end differentiable memory access scheme, which we call Sparse Access Memory (SAM), that retains the representational power of the original approaches whilst training efficiently with very large memories. We show that SAM achieves asymptotic lower bounds in space and time complexity, and find that an implementation runs $1,\!000\times$ faster and with $3,\!000\times$ less physical memory than non-sparse models. SAM learns with comparable data efficiency to existing models on a range of synthetic tasks and one-shot Omniglot character recognition, and can scale to tasks requiring $100,\!000$s of time steps and memories. As well, we show how our approach can be adapted for models that maintain temporal associations between memories, as with the recently introduced Differentiable Neural Computer.

Compressed sensing (CS) provides an elegant framework for recovering sparse signals from compressed measurements. For example, CS can exploit the structure of natural images and recover an image from only a few random measurements. CS is flexible and data efficient, but its application has been restricted by the strong assumption of sparsity and costly reconstruction process. A recent approach that combines CS with neural network generators has removed the constraint of sparsity, but reconstruction remains slow. Here we propose a novel framework that significantly improves both the performance and speed of signal recovery by jointly training a generator and the optimisation process for reconstruction via meta-learning. We explore training the measurements with different objectives, and derive a family of models based on minimising measurement errors. We show that Generative Adversarial Nets (GANs) can be viewed as a special case in this family of models. Borrowing insights from the CS perspective, we develop a novel way of improving GANs using gradient information from the discriminator.

A central challenge faced by memory systems is the robust retrieval of a stored pattern in the presence of interference due to other stored patterns and noise. A theoretically well-founded solution to robust retrieval is given by attractor dynamics, which iteratively clean up patterns during recall. However, incorporating attractor dynamics into modern deep learning systems poses difficulties: attractor basins are characterised by vanishing gradients, which are known to make training neural networks difficult. In this work, we avoid the vanishing gradient problem by training a generative distributed memory without simulating the attractor dynamics. Based on the idea of memory writing as inference, as proposed in the Kanerva Machine, we show that a likelihood-based Lyapunov function emerges from maximising the variational lower-bound of a generative memory. Experiments shows it converges to correct patterns upon iterative retrieval and achieves competitive performance as both a memory model and a generative model.

We present an end-to-end trained memory system that quickly adapts to new data and generates samples like them. Inspired by Kanerva's sparse distributed memory, it has a robust distributed reading and writing mechanism. The memory is analytically tractable, which enables optimal on-line compression via a Bayesian update-rule. We formulate it as a hierarchical conditional generative model, where memory provides a rich data-dependent prior distribution. Consequently, the top-down memory and bottom-up perception are combined to produce the code representing an observation. Empirically, we demonstrate that the adaptive memory significantly improves generative models trained on both the Omniglot and CIFAR datasets. Compared with the Differentiable Neural Computer (DNC) and its variants, our memory model has greater capacity and is significantly easier to train.

Reinforcement learning holds the promise of enabling autonomous robots to learn large repertoires of behavioral skills with minimal human intervention. However, robotic applications of reinforcement learning often compromise the autonomy of the learning process in favor of achieving training times that are practical for real physical systems. This typically involves introducing hand-engineered policy representations and human-supplied demonstrations. Deep reinforcement learning alleviates this limitation by training general-purpose neural network policies, but applications of direct deep reinforcement learning algorithms have so far been restricted to simulated settings and relatively simple tasks, due to their apparent high sample complexity. In this paper, we demonstrate that a recent deep reinforcement learning algorithm based on off-policy training of deep Q-functions can scale to complex 3D manipulation tasks and can learn deep neural network policies efficiently enough to train on real physical robots. We demonstrate that the training times can be further reduced by parallelizing the algorithm across multiple robots which pool their policy updates asynchronously. Our experimental evaluation shows that our method can learn a variety of 3D manipulation skills in simulation and a complex door opening skill on real robots without any prior demonstrations or manually designed representations.

Model-free reinforcement learning has been successfully applied to a range of challenging problems, and has recently been extended to handle large neural network policies and value functions. However, the sample complexity of model-free algorithms, particularly when using high-dimensional function approximators, tends to limit their applicability to physical systems. In this paper, we explore algorithms and representations to reduce the sample complexity of deep reinforcement learning for continuous control tasks. We propose two complementary techniques for improving the efficiency of such algorithms. First, we derive a continuous variant of the Q-learning algorithm, which we call normalized adantage functions (NAF), as an alternative to the more commonly used policy gradient and actor-critic methods. NAF representation allows us to apply Q-learning with experience replay to continuous tasks, and substantially improves performance on a set of simulated robotic control tasks. To further improve the efficiency of our approach, we explore the use of learned models for accelerating model-free reinforcement learning. We show that iteratively refitted local linear models are especially effective for this, and demonstrate substantially faster learning on domains where such models are applicable.

Obtaining reliable uncertainty estimates of neural network predictions is a long standing challenge. Bayesian neural networks have been proposed as a solution, but it remains open how to specify their prior. In particular, the common practice of a standard normal prior in weight space imposes only weak regularities, causing the function posterior to possibly generalize in unforeseen ways on inputs outside of the training distribution. We propose noise contrastive priors (NCPs) to obtain reliable uncertainty estimates. The key idea is to train the model to output high uncertainty for data points outside of the training distribution. NCPs do so using an input prior, which adds noise to the inputs of the current mini batch, and an output prior, which is a wide distribution given these inputs. NCPs are compatible with any model that can output uncertainty estimates, are easy to scale, and yield reliable uncertainty estimates throughout training. Empirically, we show that NCPs prevent overfitting outside of the training distribution and result in uncertainty estimates that are useful for active learning. We demonstrate the scalability of our method on the flight delays data set, where we significantly improve upon previously published results.

Learning from a few examples remains a key challenge in machine learning. Despite recent advances in important domains such as vision and language, the standard supervised deep learning paradigm does not offer a satisfactory solution for learning new concepts rapidly from little data. In this work, we employ ideas from metric learning based on deep neural features and from recent advances that augment neural networks with external memories. Our framework learns a network that maps a small labelled support set and an unlabelled example to its label, obviating the need for fine-tuning to adapt to new class types. We then define one-shot learning problems on vision (using Omniglot, ImageNet) and language tasks. Our algorithm improves one-shot accuracy on ImageNet from 87.6% to 93.2% and from 88.0% to 93.8% on Omniglot compared to competing approaches. We also demonstrate the usefulness of the same model on language modeling by introducing a one-shot task on the Penn Treebank.