Data-efficient Hindsight Off-policy Option Learning

Abstract

Solutions to most complex tasks can be decomposed into simpler, intermediate skills, reusable across wider ranges of problems. We follow this concept and introduce Hindsight Off-policy Options (HO2), a new algorithm for efficient and robust option learning. The algorithm relies on critic-weighted maximum likelihood estimation and an efficient dynamic programming inference procedure over off-policy trajectories. We can backpropagate through the inference procedure through time and the policy components for every time-step, making it possible to train all component's parameters off-policy, independently of the data-generating behavior policy. Experimentally, we demonstrate that HO2 outperforms competitive baselines and solves demanding robot stacking and ball-in-cup tasks from raw pixel inputs in simulation. We further compare autoregressive option policies with simple mixture policies, providing insights into the relative impact of two types of abstractions common in the options framework: action abstraction and temporal abstraction. Finally, we illustrate challenges caused by stale data in off-policy options learning and provide effective solutions.

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