Variational Discriminator Bottleneck: Improving Imitation Learning, Inverse RL, and GANs by Constraining Information Flow

International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR 2019)

Xue Bin Peng    Angjoo Kanazawa    Sam Toyer    Pieter Abbeel    Sergey Levine

University of California, Berkeley


Adversarial learning methods have been proposed for a wide range of applications, but the training of adversarial models can be notoriously unstable. Effectively balancing the performance of the generator and discriminator is critical, since a discriminator that achieves very high accuracy will produce relatively uninformative gradients. In this work, we propose a simple and general technique to constrain information flow in the discriminator by means of an information bottleneck. By enforcing a constraint on the mutual information between the observations and the discriminator's internal representation, we can effectively modulate the discriminator's accuracy and maintain useful and informative gradients. We demonstrate that our proposed variational discriminator bottleneck (VDB) leads to significant improvements across three distinct application areas for adversarial learning algorithms. Our primary evaluation studies the applicability of the VDB to imitation learning of dynamic continuous control skills, such as running. We show that our method can learn such skills directly from raw video demonstrations, substantially outperforming prior adversarial imitation learning methods. The VDB can also be combined with adversarial inverse reinforcement learning to learn parsimonious reward functions that can be transferred and re-optimized in new settings. Finally, we demonstrate that VDB can train GANs more effectively for image generation, improving upon a number of prior stabilization methods.

Paper: [PDF]       Code: [GitHub]       Preprint: [arXiv]



	title={Variational Discriminator Bottleneck: Improving Imitation Learning, Inverse {RL}, and {GAN}s by Constraining Information Flow},
	author={Xue Bin Peng and Angjoo Kanazawa and Sam Toyer and Pieter Abbeel and Sergey Levine},
	booktitle={International Conference on Learning Representations},