Unsupervised Curricula for Visual Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

AuthorFeedback Bibtex MetaReview Metadata Paper Reviews Supplemental


Allan Jabri, Kyle Hsu, Abhishek Gupta, Ben Eysenbach, Sergey Levine, Chelsea Finn


In principle, meta-reinforcement learning algorithms leverage experience across many tasks to learn fast and effective reinforcement learning (RL) strategies. However, current meta-RL approaches rely on manually-defined distributions of training tasks, and hand-crafting these task distributions can be challenging and time-consuming. Can ``useful'' pre-training tasks be discovered in an unsupervised manner? We develop an unsupervised algorithm for inducing an adaptive meta-training task distribution, i.e. an automatic curriculum, by modeling unsupervised interaction in a visual environment. The task distribution is scaffolded by a parametric density model of the meta-learner's trajectory distribution. We formulate unsupervised meta-RL as information maximization between a latent task variable and the meta-learner’s data distribution, and describe a practical instantiation which alternates between integration of recent experience into the task distribution and meta-learning of the updated tasks. Repeating this procedure leads to iterative reorganization such that the curriculum adapts as the meta-learner's data distribution shifts. Moreover, we show how discriminative clustering frameworks for visual representations can support trajectory-level task acquisition and exploration in domains with pixel observations, avoiding the pitfalls of alternatives. In experiments on vision-based navigation and manipulation domains, we show that the algorithm allows for unsupervised meta-learning that both transfers to downstream tasks specified by hand-crafted reward functions and serves as pre-training for more efficient meta-learning of test task distributions.