Policy Manifold Search for Improving Diversity-based Neuroevolution

NeurIPS 2020

Policy Manifold Search for Improving Diversity-based Neuroevolution

Dec 06, 2020
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Diversity-based approaches have recently gained popularity as an alternative paradigm to performance-based policy search. A popular approach from this family, Quality-Diversity (QD), maintains a collection of high-performing policies separated in the diversity-metric space, defined based on policies' rollout behaviours. When policies are parameterised as neural networks, i.e. Neuroevolution, QD tends to not scale well with parameter space dimensionality. Our hypothesis is that there exists a low-dimensional manifold embedded in the policy parameter space, containing a high density of diverse and feasible policies. We propose a novel approach to diversity-based policy search via Neuroevolution, that leverages learned latent representations of the policy parameters which capture the local structure of the data. Our approach iteratively collects policies according to the QD framework, in order to (i) build a collection of diverse policies, (ii) use it to learn a latent representation of the policy parameters, (iii) perform policy search in the learned latent space. We use the Jacobian of the inverse transformation (i.e.reconstruction function) to guide the search in the latent space. This ensures that the generated samples remain in the high-density regions of the original space, after reconstruction. We evaluate our contributions on three continuous control tasks in simulated environments, and compare to diversity-based baselines. The findings suggest that our approach yields a more efficient and robust policy search process. Speakers: Nemanja Rakicevic, Antoine Cully, Petar Kormushev

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