Neural Task Graph Execution

Sungryull Sohn, Junhyuk Oh, Honglak Lee

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Feb 15, 2018) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: In order to develop a scalable multi-task reinforcement learning (RL) agent that is able to execute many complex tasks, this paper introduces a new RL problem where the agent is required to execute a given task graph which describes a set of subtasks and dependencies among them. Unlike existing approaches which explicitly describe what the agent should do, our problem only describes properties of subtasks and relationships between them, which requires the agent to perform a complex reasoning to find the optimal subtask to execute. To solve this problem, we propose a neural task graph solver (NTS) which encodes the task graph using a recursive neural network. To overcome the difficulty of training, we propose a novel non-parametric gradient-based policy that performs back-propagation over a differentiable form of the task graph to compute the influence of each subtask on the other subtasks. Our NTS is pre-trained to approximate the proposed gradient-based policy and fine-tuned through actor-critic method. The experimental results on a 2D visual domain show that our method to pre-train from the gradient-based policy significantly improves the performance of NTS. We also demonstrate that our agent can perform a complex reasoning to find the optimal way of executing the task graph and generalize well to unseen task graphs. In addition, we compare our agent with a Monte-Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) method showing that our method is much more efficient than MCTS, and the performance of our agent can be further improved by combining with MCTS. The demo video is available at
  • Keywords: deep reinforcement learning, task execution, instruction execution