DARLA: Improving Zero-Shot Transfer in Reinforcement Learning

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Irina Higgins, Arka Pal, Andrei Rusu, Loic Matthey, Christopher Burgess, Alexander Pritzel, Matthew Botvinick, Charles Blundell, Alexander Lerchner ;
Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 70:1480-1490, 2017.

Abstract

Domain adaptation is an important open problem in deep reinforcement learning (RL). In many scenarios of interest data is hard to obtain, so agents may learn a source policy in a setting where data is readily available, with the hope that it generalises well to the target domain. We propose a new multi-stage RL agent, DARLA (DisentAngled Representation Learning Agent), which learns to see before learning to act. DARLA’s vision is based on learning a disentangled representation of the observed environment. Once DARLA can see, it is able to acquire source policies that are robust to many domain shifts – even with no access to the target domain. DARLA significantly outperforms conventional baselines in zero-shot domain adaptation scenarios, an effect that holds across a variety of RL environments (Jaco arm, DeepMind Lab) and base RL algorithms (DQN, A3C and EC).

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