The Differentiable Cross-Entropy Method
Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 119:291-302, 2020.
We study the Cross-Entropy Method (CEM) for the non-convex optimization of a continuous and parameterized objective function and introduce a differentiable variant that enables us to differentiate the output of CEM with respect to the objective function’s parameters. In the machine learning setting this brings CEM inside of the end-to-end learning pipeline where this has otherwise been impossible. We show applications in a synthetic energy-based structured prediction task and in non-convex continuous control. In the control setting we show how to embed optimal action sequences into a lower-dimensional space. This enables us to use policy optimization to fine-tune modeling components by differentiating through the CEM-based controller.