Keywords: Textworld, Text-based Games, Embodied Agents, Language Grounding, Generalization, Imitation Learning, ALFRED
Abstract: Given a simple request like Put a washed apple in the kitchen fridge, humans can reason in purely abstract terms by imagining action sequences and scoring their likelihood of success, prototypicality, and efficiency, all without moving a muscle. Once we see the kitchen in question, we can update our abstract plans to fit the scene. Embodied agents require the same abilities, but existing work does not yet provide the infrastructure necessary for both reasoning abstractly and executing concretely. We address this limitation by introducing ALFWorld, a simulator that enables agents to learn abstract, text-based policies in TextWorld (Côté et al., 2018) and then execute goals from the ALFRED benchmark (Shridhar et al., 2020) in a rich visual environment. ALFWorld enables the creation of a new BUTLER agent whose abstract knowledge, learned in TextWorld, corresponds directly to concrete, visually grounded actions. In turn, as we demonstrate empirically, this fosters better agent generalization than training only in the visually grounded environment. BUTLER’s simple, modular design factors the problem to allow researchers to focus on models for improving every piece of the pipeline (language understanding, planning, navigation, and visual scene understanding).
One-sentence Summary: Pre-training in text-based environments allows agents to learn priors and policies that help solve embodied tasks.
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