Abstract: Imitation learning algorithms provide a simple and straightforward approach for training control policies via supervised learning. By maximizing the likelihood of good actions provided by an expert demonstrator, supervised imitation learning can produce effective policies without the algorithmic complexities and optimization challenges of reinforcement learning, at the cost of requiring an expert demonstrator to provide the demonstrations. In this paper, we ask: can we take insights from imitation learning to design algorithms that can effectively acquire optimal policies from scratch without any expert demonstrations? The key observation that makes this possible is that, in the multi-task setting, trajectories that are generated by a suboptimal policy can still serve as optimal examples for other tasks. In particular, when tasks correspond to different goals, every trajectory is a successful demonstration for the goal state that it actually reaches. We propose a simple algorithm for learning goal-reaching behaviors without any demonstrations, complicated user-provided reward functions, or complex reinforcement learning methods. Our method simply maximizes the likelihood of actions the agent actually took in its own previous rollouts, conditioned on the goal being the state that it actually reached. Although related variants of this approach have been proposed previously in imitation learning with demonstrations, we show how this approach can effectively learn goal-reaching policies from scratch. We present a theoretical result linking self-supervised imitation learning and reinforcement learning, and empirical results showing that it performs competitively with more complex reinforcement learning methods on a range of challenging goal reaching problems, while yielding advantages in terms of stability and use of offline data.
Authors: Dibya Ghosh, Abhishek Gupta, Ashwin Reddy, Justin Fu, Coline Devin, Benjamin Eysenbach, Sergey Levine (UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University)