Unsupervised meta-learning: studying to study with out supervision


By Benjamin Eysenbach and Abhishek Gupta

This submit is cross-listed on the CMU ML weblog.

The historical past of machine studying has largely been a narrative of accelerating abstraction. Within the daybreak of ML, researchers spent appreciable effort engineering options. As deep studying gained reputation, researchers then shifted in the direction of tuning the replace guidelines and studying charges for his or her optimizers. Latest analysis in meta-learning has climbed one stage of abstraction larger: many researchers now spend their days manually setting up process distributions, from which they will mechanically study good optimizers. What is perhaps the subsequent rung on this ladder? On this submit we introduce concept and algorithms for unsupervised meta-learning, the place machine studying algorithms themselves suggest their very own process distributions. Unsupervised meta-learning additional reduces the quantity of human supervision required to unravel duties, probably inserting a brand new rung on this ladder of abstraction.

We begin by discussing how machine studying algorithms use human supervision to search out patterns and extract data from noticed information. The commonest machine studying setting is regression, the place a human gives labels $Y$ for a set of examples $X$. The intention is to return a predictor that appropriately assigns labels to novel examples. One other frequent machine studying downside setting is reinforcement studying (RL), the place an agent takes actions in an setting. In RL, people point out the specified habits by way of a reward perform that the agent seeks to maximise. To attract a crude analogy to regression, the setting dynamics are the examples $X$, and the reward perform provides the labels $Y$. Algorithms for regression and RL make use of many instruments, together with tabular strategies (e.g., worth iteration), linear strategies (e.g., linear regression) kernel-methods (e.g., RBF-SVMs), and deep neural networks. Broadly, we name these algorithms studying procedures: processes that take as enter a dataset (examples with labels, or transitions with rewards) and output a perform that performs properly (achieves excessive accuracy or massive reward) on the dataset.

Machine studying analysis is much like the management room for giant physics experiments. Researchers have a lot of knobs they will tune which have an effect on the efficiency of the educational process. The precise setting for the knobs is determined by the actual experiment: some settings work properly for high-energy experiments; others work properly for ultracold atom experiments. Determine Credit score.

Much like lab procedures utilized in physics and biology, the educational procedures utilized in machine studying have many knobs that may be tuned. For instance, the educational process for coaching a neural community is perhaps outlined by an optimizer (e.g., Nesterov, Adam) and a studying fee (e.g., 1e-5). In contrast with regression, studying procedures particular to RL (e.g., DDPG) usually have many extra knobs, together with the frequency of information assortment and the way ceaselessly the coverage is up to date. Discovering the fitting setting for the knobs can have a big impact on how shortly the educational process solves a process, and a very good configuration of knobs for one studying process could also be a nasty configuration for an additional.

Whereas machine studying practitioners usually rigorously tune these knobs by hand, if we’re going to resolve many duties, it might be helpful to automated this course of. The method of setting the knobs of studying procedures through optimization is known as meta-learning [Thrun 1998]. Algorithms that carry out this optimization downside mechanically are referred to as meta-learning algorithms. Explicitly tuning the knobs of studying procedures is an lively space of analysis, with numerous researchers tuning the replace guidelines [Andrychowicz 2016, Duan 2016, Wang 2016], weight initialization [Finn 2017], community weights [Ha 2016], community architectures [Gaier 2019], and different sides of studying procedures.

To guage a setting of knobs, meta-learning algorithms contemplate not one process however a distribution over many duties. For instance, a distribution over supervised studying duties could embody studying a canine detector, studying a cat detector, and studying a chook detector. In reinforcement studying, a process distribution might be outlined as driving a automotive in a clean, protected, and environment friendly method, the place duties differ by the weights they place on smoothness, security, and effectivity. Ideally, the duty distribution is designed to reflect the distribution over duties that we’re more likely to encounter in the true world. Because the duties in a process distribution are sometimes associated, info from one process could also be helpful in fixing different duties extra effectively. As you may anticipate, a knob setting that works finest on one distribution of duties might not be the perfect for an additional process distribution; the optimum knob setting is determined by the duty distribution.

An illustration of meta-learning, the place duties correspond to arranging blocks into several types of towers. The human has a selected block tower in thoughts and rewards the robotic when it builds the right tower. The robotic’s intention is to construct the right tower as shortly as potential.

In lots of settings we need to do properly on a process distribution to which we now have solely restricted entry. For instance, in a self-driving automotive, duties could correspond to discovering the optimum steadiness of smoothness, security, and effectivity for every rider, however querying riders to get rewards is pricey. A researcher can try and manually assemble a process distribution that mimics the true process distribution, however this may be fairly difficult and time consuming. Can we keep away from having to manually design such process distributions?

To reply this query, we should perceive the place the advantages of meta-learning come from. After we outline process distributions for meta-learning, we accomplish that with some prior data in thoughts. With out this prior info, tuning the knobs of a studying process is commonly a zero-sum sport: setting the knobs to any configuration will speed up studying on some duties whereas slowing studying on different duties. Does this counsel there isn’t a technique to see the good thing about meta-learning with out the guide development of process distributions? Maybe not! The subsequent part presents another.

If designing process distributions is the bottleneck in making use of meta-learning algorithms, why not have meta-learning algorithms suggest their very own duties? At first look this looks like a horrible thought, as a result of the No Free Lunch Theorem means that that is unattainable, with out extra data. Nonetheless, many real-world settings do present a little bit of extra info, albeit disguised as unlabeled information. For instance, in regression, we would have entry to an unlabeled dataset and know that the downstream duties shall be labeled variations of this similar picture dataset. In a RL setting, a robotic can work together with its setting with out receiving any reward, understanding that downstream duties shall be constructed by defining reward capabilities for this very setting (i.e. the true world). Seen from this attitude, the recipe for unsupervised meta-learning (doing meta-learning with out manually constructed duties) turns into clear: given unlabeled information, assemble process distributions from this unlabeled information or setting, after which meta-learn to shortly resolve these self-proposed duties.

In unsupervised meta-learning, the agent proposes its personal duties, moderately than counting on duties proposed by a human.

How can we use this unlabeled information to assemble process distributions which can facilitate studying downstream duties? Within the case of regression, prior work on unsupervised meta-learning [Hsu 2018, Khodadadeh 2019] clusters an unlabeled dataset of photos after which randomly chooses subsets of the clusters to outline a distribution of classification duties. Different work [Jabri 2019] have a look at an RL setting: after exploring an setting and not using a reward perform to gather a set of behaviors which might be possible on this setting, these behaviors are clustered and used to outline a distribution of reward capabilities. In each circumstances, regardless that the duties constructed might be random, the ensuing process distribution shouldn’t be random, as a result of all duties share the underlying unlabeled information — the picture dataset for regression and the setting dynamics for reinforcement studying. The underlying unlabeled information are the inductive bias with which we pay for our free lunch.

Allow us to take a deeper look into the RL case. With out understanding the downstream duties or reward capabilities, what’s the “finest” process distribution for “practising” to unravel duties shortly? Can we measure how efficient a process distribution is for fixing unknown, downstream duties? Is there any sense during which one unsupervised process proposal mechanism is healthier than one other? Understanding the solutions to those questions could information the principled growth of meta-learning algorithms with little dependence on human supervision. Our work [Gupta 2018], takes a primary step in the direction of answering these questions. Specifically, we study the worst-case efficiency of studying procedures, and derive an optimum unsupervised meta-reinforcement studying process.

To reply the questions posed above, our first step is to outline an optimum meta-learner for the case the place the distribution of duties is thought. We outline an optimum meta-learner as the educational process that achieves the biggest anticipated reward, averaged throughout the distribution of duties. Extra exactly, we are going to examine the anticipated reward for a studying process $f$ to that of finest studying process $f^*$, defining the remorse of $f$ on a process distribution $p$ as follows:

Extending this definition to the case of unsupervised meta-learning, an optimum unsupervised meta-learner might be outlined as a meta-learner that achieves the minimal worst-case remorse throughout all potential process distributions that could be encountered within the setting. Within the absence of any data concerning the precise downstream process, we resort to a worst case formulation. An unsupervised meta-learning algorithm will discover a single studying process $f$ that has the bottom remorse towards an adversarially chosen process distribution $p$:

Our work analyzes how precisely we would receive such an optimum unsupervised meta-learner, and gives bounds on the remorse that it would incur within the worst case. Particularly, beneath some restrictions on the household of duties that is perhaps encountered at test-time, the optimum distribution for an unsupervised meta-learner to suggest is uniform over all potential duties.

The instinct for that is simple: if the check time process distribution might be chosen adversarially, the algorithm should be sure it’s uniformly good over all potential duties that is perhaps encountered. As a didactic instance, if test-time reward capabilities had been restricted to the category of goal-reaching duties, the remorse for reaching a purpose at test-time is inverse associated to the chance of sampling that purpose throughout training-time. If any one of many targets $g$ has decrease density than the others, an adversary can suggest a process distribution solely consisting of reaching that purpose $g$ inflicting the educational process to incur the next remorse. This instance means that we are able to discover an optimum unsupervised meta-learner utilizing a uniform distribution over targets. Our paper formalizes this concept and extends it to broader lessons process distributions.

Now, truly sampling from a uniform distribution over all potential duties is kind of difficult. A number of current papers have proposed RL exploration strategies based mostly on maximizing mutual info [Achiam 2018, Eysenbach 2018, Gregor 2016, Lee 2019, Sharma 2019]. On this work, we present that these strategies present a tractable approximation to the uniform distribution over process distributions. To grasp why that is, we are able to have a look at the type of a mutual info thought-about by [Eysenbach 2018], between states $s$ and latent variables $z$:

On this goal, the primary marginal entropy time period is maximized when there’s a uniform distribution over all potential duties. The second conditional entropy time period ensures consistency, by ensuring that for every $z$, the ensuing distribution of $s$ is slender. This implies setting up unsupervised task-distributions in an setting by optimizing mutual info provides us a provably optimum process distribution, in accordance with our notion of min-max optimality.

Whereas the evaluation makes some limiting assumptions concerning the types of duties encountered, we present how this evaluation might be prolonged to supply a sure on the efficiency in essentially the most normal case of reinforcement studying. It additionally gives empirical beneficial properties on a number of simulated environments as in comparison with strategies which practice from scratch, as proven within the Determine beneath.

In abstract:

Studying procedures are recipes for changing datasets into perform approximators. Studying procedures have many knobs, which might be tuned by optimizing the educational procedures to unravel a distribution of duties.

Manually designing these process distributions is difficult, so a current line of labor means that the educational process can use unlabeled information to suggest its personal duties for optimizing its knobs.

These unsupervised meta-learning algorithms enable for studying in regimes beforehand impractical, and additional broaden that functionality of machine studying strategies.

This work carefully pertains to different works on unsupervised talent discovery, exploration and illustration studying, however explicitly optimizes for transferability of the representations and expertise to downstream duties.

Numerous open questions stay about unsupervised meta-learning:

Unsupervised studying is carefully related to unsupervised meta-learning: the previous makes use of unlabeled information to study options, whereas the second makes use of unlabeled information to tune the educational process. Would possibly there be some unifying remedy of each approaches?

Our evaluation solely proves that process proposal based mostly on mutual info is perfect for memoryless meta-learning algorithms. Meta-learning algorithms with reminiscence, which we anticipate will carry out higher, could carry out finest with completely different process proposal mechanisms.

Scaling unsupervised meta studying to leverage large-scale datasets and sophisticated duties holds the promise of buying studying procedures for fixing real-world issues extra effectively than our present studying procedures.

Try our paper for extra experiments and proofs: https://arxiv.org/abs/1806.04640


Due to Jake Tyo, Conor Igoe, Sergey Levine, Chelsea Finn, Misha Khodak, Daniel Seita, and Stefani Karp for his or her suggestions.This text was initially printed on the BAIR weblog, and seems right here with the authors’ permission.

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BAIR Weblog is the official weblog of the Berkeley Synthetic Intelligence Analysis (BAIR) Lab.


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