Research papers and code for "Tuomas Haarnoja":
We address the problem of learning hierarchical deep neural network policies for reinforcement learning. In contrast to methods that explicitly restrict or cripple lower layers of a hierarchy to force them to use higher-level modulating signals, each layer in our framework is trained to directly solve the task, but acquires a range of diverse strategies via a maximum entropy reinforcement learning objective. Each layer is also augmented with latent random variables, which are sampled from a prior distribution during the training of that layer. The maximum entropy objective causes these latent variables to be incorporated into the layer's policy, and the higher level layer can directly control the behavior of the lower layer through this latent space. Furthermore, by constraining the mapping from latent variables to actions to be invertible, higher layers retain full expressivity: neither the higher layers nor the lower layers are constrained in their behavior. Our experimental evaluation demonstrates that we can improve on the performance of single-layer policies on standard benchmark tasks simply by adding additional layers, and that our method can solve more complex sparse-reward tasks by learning higher-level policies on top of high-entropy skills optimized for simple low-level objectives.

* ICML 2018; Videos: https://sites.google.com/view/latent-space-deep-rl Code: https://github.com/haarnoja/sac
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Model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have been demonstrated on a range of challenging decision making and control tasks. However, these methods typically suffer from two major challenges: very high sample complexity and brittle convergence properties, which necessitate meticulous hyperparameter tuning. Both of these challenges severely limit the applicability of such methods to complex, real-world domains. In this paper, we propose soft actor-critic, an off-policy actor-critic deep RL algorithm based on the maximum entropy reinforcement learning framework. In this framework, the actor aims to maximize expected reward while also maximizing entropy. That is, to succeed at the task while acting as randomly as possible. Prior deep RL methods based on this framework have been formulated as Q-learning methods. By combining off-policy updates with a stable stochastic actor-critic formulation, our method achieves state-of-the-art performance on a range of continuous control benchmark tasks, outperforming prior on-policy and off-policy methods. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, in contrast to other off-policy algorithms, our approach is very stable, achieving very similar performance across different random seeds.

* ICML 2018 Videos: sites.google.com/view/soft-actor-critic Code: github.com/haarnoja/sac
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Generative state estimators based on probabilistic filters and smoothers are one of the most popular classes of state estimators for robots and autonomous vehicles. However, generative models have limited capacity to handle rich sensory observations, such as camera images, since they must model the entire distribution over sensor readings. Discriminative models do not suffer from this limitation, but are typically more complex to train as latent variable models for state estimation. We present an alternative approach where the parameters of the latent state distribution are directly optimized as a deterministic computation graph, resulting in a simple and effective gradient descent algorithm for training discriminative state estimators. We show that this procedure can be used to train state estimators that use complex input, such as raw camera images, which must be processed using expressive nonlinear function approximators such as convolutional neural networks. Our model can be viewed as a type of recurrent neural network, and the connection to probabilistic filtering allows us to design a network architecture that is particularly well suited for state estimation. We evaluate our approach on synthetic tracking task with raw image inputs and on the visual odometry task in the KITTI dataset. The results show significant improvement over both standard generative approaches and regular recurrent neural networks.

* NIPS 2016
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We propose a method for learning expressive energy-based policies for continuous states and actions, which has been feasible only in tabular domains before. We apply our method to learning maximum entropy policies, resulting into a new algorithm, called soft Q-learning, that expresses the optimal policy via a Boltzmann distribution. We use the recently proposed amortized Stein variational gradient descent to learn a stochastic sampling network that approximates samples from this distribution. The benefits of the proposed algorithm include improved exploration and compositionality that allows transferring skills between tasks, which we confirm in simulated experiments with swimming and walking robots. We also draw a connection to actor-critic methods, which can be viewed performing approximate inference on the corresponding energy-based model.

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Deep reinforcement learning offers the promise of automatic acquisition of robotic control policies that directly map sensory inputs to low-level actions. In the domain of robotic locomotion, it could make it possible for locomotion skills to be learned with minimal engineering and without even needing to construct a model of the robot. However, applying deep reinforcement learning methods on real-world robots is exceptionally difficult, due both to the sample complexity and, just as importantly, the sensitivity of such methods to hyperparameters. While hyperparameter tuning can be performed in parallel in simulated domains, it is usually impractical to tune hyperparameters directly on real-world robotic platforms, especially legged platforms like quadrupedal robots that can be damaged through extensive trial-and-error learning. We develop a stable deep RL algorithm that extends soft actor-critic, requires minimal hyperparameter tuning, and requires only a modest number of trials to learn multilayer neural network policies. We then apply this method to learn walking gaits on a real-world Minitaur robot. Our method can learn to walk from scratch directly in the real world in two hours of training, without any model or simulation, and the resulting policy is robust to moderate variations in the environment. We further show that our algorithm achieves state-of-the-art performance on four standard simulated benchmarks.

* Videos: https://sites.google.com/view/minitaur-locomotion/ . arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:1812.05905
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Model-free deep reinforcement learning has been shown to exhibit good performance in domains ranging from video games to simulated robotic manipulation and locomotion. However, model-free methods are known to perform poorly when the interaction time with the environment is limited, as is the case for most real-world robotic tasks. In this paper, we study how maximum entropy policies trained using soft Q-learning can be applied to real-world robotic manipulation. The application of this method to real-world manipulation is facilitated by two important features of soft Q-learning. First, soft Q-learning can learn multimodal exploration strategies by learning policies represented by expressive energy-based models. Second, we show that policies learned with soft Q-learning can be composed to create new policies, and that the optimality of the resulting policy can be bounded in terms of the divergence between the composed policies. This compositionality provides an especially valuable tool for real-world manipulation, where constructing new policies by composing existing skills can provide a large gain in efficiency over training from scratch. Our experimental evaluation demonstrates that soft Q-learning is substantially more sample efficient than prior model-free deep reinforcement learning methods, and that compositionality can be performed for both simulated and real-world tasks.

* Videos: https://sites.google.com/view/composing-real-world-policies/
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Model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have been successfully applied to a range of challenging sequential decision making and control tasks. However, these methods typically suffer from two major challenges: high sample complexity and brittleness to hyperparameters. Both of these challenges limit the applicability of such methods to real-world domains. In this paper, we describe Soft Actor-Critic (SAC), our recently introduced off-policy actor-critic algorithm based on the maximum entropy RL framework. In this framework, the actor aims to simultaneously maximize expected return and entropy. That is, to succeed at the task while acting as randomly as possible. We extend SAC to incorporate a number of modifications that accelerate training and improve stability with respect to the hyperparameters, including a constrained formulation that automatically tunes the temperature hyperparameter. We systematically evaluate SAC on a range of benchmark tasks, as well as real-world challenging tasks such as locomotion for a quadrupedal robot and robotic manipulation with a dexterous hand. With these improvements, SAC achieves state-of-the-art performance, outperforming prior on-policy and off-policy methods in sample-efficiency and asymptotic performance. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, in contrast to other off-policy algorithms, our approach is very stable, achieving similar performance across different random seeds. These results suggest that SAC is a promising candidate for learning in real-world robotics tasks.

* arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:1801.01290
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