Source code for "Multi-objective Model-based Policy Search for Data-efficient Learning with Sparse Rewards" (CoRL 2018)
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Multi-DEX algorithm

Paper: Multi-objective Model-based Policy Search for Data-efficient Learning with Sparse Rewards (CoRL 2018)


The most data-efficient algorithms for reinforcement learning in robotics are model-based policy search algorithms, which alternate between learning a dynamical model of the robot and optimizing a policy to maximize the expected return given the model and its uncertainties. However, the current algorithms lack an effective exploration strategy to deal with sparse or misleading reward scenarios: if they do not experience any state with a positive reward during the initial random exploration, it is very unlikely to solve the problem. Here, we propose a novel model-based policy search algorithm, Multi-DEX, that leverages a learned dynamical model to efficiently explore the task space and solve tasks with sparse rewards in a few episodes. To achieve this, we frame the policy search problem as a multi-objective, model-based policy optimization problem with three objectives: (1) generate maximally novel state trajectories, (2) maximize the expected return and (3) keep the system in state-space regions for which the model is as accurate as possible. We then optimize these objectives using a Pareto-based multi-objective optimization algorithm. The experiments show that Multi-DEX is able to solve sparse reward scenarios (with a simulated robotic arm) in much lower interaction time than VIME, TRPO, GEP-PG, CMA-ES and Black-DROPS.


  1. The algorithm and the experiments are implemented in C++-11.
  2. The codes uses resouces (such as GP model learning) of limbo library. Therefore, before building the code of this repository, the limbo dependencies must be installed. Check here
  3. For Physics Simulation it uses DART library which must be installed in the system.
  4. For random forests model learning it uses openCV.

The header only libraries such as sferes2(NSGA-II multi-objective optimization), limbo (GP model) and robot_dart (wrapper for DART) have been added as submodules to this repository and hence these libraries need not be installed explicitly.

How to properly clone this repository

git clone
git submodule init
git submodule update

Configuring the experiments

cd kaushik_2018_multi-dex
./waf configure

Building the experiments

./waf build -j4

Running the experiments

To run without graphical visualization

./build/src/dart/sequential_goal_reaching_2dof_simu -p 0.4
./build/src/dart/drawer_opening_2dof_simu -p 0.4

To run with graphical visualization

./build/src/dart/sequential_goal_reaching_2dof_graphic -p 0.4
./build/src/dart/drawer_opening_2dof_graphic -p 0.4

Cumulative rewards observed after each execution of the policy on the robot are stored in results.dat file in the working directory.