Closed-Loop Learning of Visual Control Policies

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In this paper we present a general, flexible framework for learning mappings from images to actions by interacting with the environment. The basic idea is to introduce a feature-based image classifier in front of a reinforcement learning algorithm. The classifier partitions the visual space according to the presence or absence of few highly informative local descriptors that are incrementally selected in a sequence of attempts to remove perceptual aliasing. We also address the problem of fighting overfitting in such a greedy algorithm. Finally, we show how high-level visual features can be generated when the power of local descriptors is insufficient for completely disambiguating the aliased states. This is done by building a hierarchy of composite features that consist of recursive spatial combinations of visual features. We demonstrate the efficacy of our algorithms by solving three visual navigation tasks and a visual version of the classical ``Car on the Hill'' control problem.

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