Learning to Generalise through Features - Masters Thesis


A Markov decision process (MDP) cannot be used for learning end-to-end control policies in Reinforcement Learning when the dimension of the feature vectors changes from one trial to the next. For example, this difference is present in an environment where the number of blocks to manipulate can vary. Because we cannot learn a different policy for each number of blocks, we suggest framing the problem as a POMDP instead of the MDP. It allows us to construct a constant observation space for a dynamic state space. There are two ways we can achieve such construction. First, we can design a hand-crafted set of observations for a particular problem. However, that set cannot be readily transferred to another problem, and it often requires domaindependent knowledge. On the other hand, a set of observations can be deduced from visual observations. This approach is universal, and it allows us to easily incorporate the geometry of the problem into the observations, which can be challenging to hard-code in the former method. In this Thesis, we examine both of these methods. Our goal is to learn policies that can be generalised to new tasks. First, we show that a more general observation space can improve the performance of policies tested in untrained tasks. Second, we show that meaningful feature vectors can be obtained from visual observations. If properly regularised, these vectors can re ect the spacial structure of the state space and used for planning. Using these vectors, we construct an auto-generated reward function, able to learn working policies.

The Univesity of Melbourne