Unsupervised Talent Discovery with Contrastive Intrinsic Management – The Berkeley Synthetic Intelligence Analysis Weblog


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Unsupervised Reinforcement Studying (RL), the place RL brokers pre-train with self-supervised rewards, is an rising paradigm for creating RL brokers which are able to generalization. Not too long ago, we launched the Unsupervised RL Benchmark (URLB) which we lined in a earlier put up. URLB benchmarked many unsupervised RL algorithms throughout three classes — competence-based, knowledge-based, and data-based algorithms. A stunning discovering was that competence-based algorithms considerably underperformed different classes. On this put up we’ll demystify what has been holding again competence-based strategies and introduce Contrastive Intrinsic Management (CIC), a brand new competence-based algorithm that’s the first to realize main outcomes on URLB.

Outcomes from benchmarking unsupervised RL algorithms

To recap, competence-based strategies (which we’ll cowl intimately) maximize the mutual info between states and abilities (e.g. DIAYN), knowledge-based strategies maximize the error of a predictive mannequin (e.g. Curiosity), and data-based strategies maximize the range of noticed knowledge (e.g. APT). Evaluating these algorithms on URLB by reward-free pre-training for 2M steps adopted by 100k steps of finetuning throughout 12 downstream duties, we beforehand discovered the next stack rating of algorithms from the three classes.

URLB results

Within the above determine competence-based strategies (in inexperienced) do considerably worse than the opposite two forms of unsupervised RL algorithms. Why is that this the case and what can we do to resolve it?

Competence-based exploration

As a fast primer, competence-based algorithms maximize the mutual info between some noticed variable equivalent to a state and a latent talent vector, which is normally sampled from noise.

Competence-based Exploration

The mutual info is normally an intractable amount and since we need to maximize it, we’re normally higher off maximizing a variational decrease sure.

Mutual Info Decomposition

The amount q(z|tau) is known as the discriminator. In prior works, the discriminators are both classifiers over discrete abilities or regressors over steady abilities. The issue is that classification and regression duties want an exponential variety of numerous knowledge samples to be correct. In easy environments the place the variety of potential behaviors is small, present competence-based strategies work however not in environments the place the set of potential behaviors is massive and numerous.

How surroundings design influences efficiency

As an instance this level, let’s run three algorithms on the OpenAI Health club and DeepMind Management (DMC) Hopper. Health club Hopper resets when the agent loses steadiness whereas DMC episodes have fastened size regardless if the agent falls over. By resetting early, Health club Hopper constrains the agent to a small variety of behaviors that may be achieved by remaining balanced. We run three algorithms — DIAYN and ICM, common competence-based and knowledge-based algorithms, in addition to a “Mounted” agent which will get a reward of +1 for every timestep, and measure the zero-shot extrinsic reward for hopping throughout self-supervised pre-training.

OpenAI Gym vs DMC

On OpenAI Health club each DIAYN and the Mounted agent obtain increased extrinsic rewards relative to ICM, however on the DeepMind Management Hopper each algorithms collapse. The one vital distinction between the 2 environments is that OpenAI Health club resets early whereas DeepMind Management doesn’t. This helps the speculation that when an surroundings helps many behaviors prior competence-based approaches battle to be taught helpful abilities.

Certainly, if we visualize behaviors discovered by DIAYN on different DeepMind Management environments, we see that it learns a small set of static abilities.

Prior strategies fail to be taught numerous behaviors


Expertise discovered by DIAYN after 2M steps of coaching.

Efficient competence-based exploration with Contrastive Intrinsic Management (CIC)

As illustrated within the above instance – advanced environments help a lot of abilities and we due to this fact want discriminators able to supporting massive talent areas. This stress between the necessity to help massive talent areas and the limitation of present discriminators leads us to suggest Contrastive Intrinsic Management (CIC).

Contrastive Intrinsic Management (CIC) introduces a brand new contrastive density estimator to approximate the conditional entropy (the discriminator). In contrast to visible contrastive studying, this contrastive goal operates over state transitions and talent vectors. This enables us to carry highly effective illustration studying equipment from imaginative and prescient to unsupervised talent discovery.

CIC Decomposition

For a sensible algorithm, we use the CIC contrastive talent studying as an auxiliary loss throughout pre-training. The self-supervised intrinsic reward is the worth of the entropy estimate computed over the CIC embeddings. We additionally analyze different types of intrinsic rewards within the paper, however this easy variant performs effectively with minimal complexity. The CIC structure has the next kind:

CIC Architecture

Qualitatively the behaviors from CIC after 2M steps of pre-training are fairly numerous.

Various Behaviors discovered with CIC


Expertise discovered by CIC after 2M steps of coaching.

With express exploration by way of the state-transition entropy time period and the contrastive talent discriminator for illustration studying CIC adapts extraordinarily effectively to downstream duties – outperforming prior competence-based approaches by 1.78x and all prior exploration strategies by 1.19x on state-based URLB.


We offer extra info within the CIC paper about how architectural particulars and talent dimension have an effect on the efficiency of the CIC paper. The principle takeaway from CIC is that there’s nothing improper with the competence-based goal of maximizing mutual info. Nevertheless, what issues is how effectively we approximate this goal, particularly in environments that help a lot of behaviors. CIC is the primary competence-based algorithm to realize main efficiency on URLB. Our hope is that our strategy encourages different researchers to work on new unsupervised RL algorithms

Paper: CIC: Contrastive Intrinsic Management for Unsupervised Talent Discovery
Michael Laskin, Hao Liu, Xue Bin Peng, Denis Yarats, Aravind Rajeswaran, Pieter Abbeel

Code: https://github.com/rll-research/cic


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