Reinforcement Learning is a type of machine learning paradigm where an agent learns to make decisions by interacting with an environment. The agent aims to maximize a cumulative reward signal over time by taking a sequence of actions in the environment. This learning process involves trial and error, as the agent explores various actions and learns from the consequences of those actions.


Dynamic Causal Discovery in Imitation Learning

Imitation learning, which learns agent policy by mimicking expert demonstration, has shown promising results in many applications such as medical treatment regimes and self-driving vehicles. However, it remains a difficult task to interpret control policies learned by the agent. Difficulties mainly come from two aspects: 1) agents in imitation learning are usually implemented as deep neural networks, which are black-box models and lack interpretability; 2) the latent causal mechanism behind agents’ decisions may vary along the trajectory, rather than staying static throughout time steps. To increase transparency and offer better interpretability of the neural agent, we propose to expose its captured knowledge in the form of a directed acyclic causal graph, with nodes being action and state variables and edges denoting the causal relations behind predictions. Furthermore, we design this causal discovery process to be state-dependent, enabling it to model the dynamics in latent causal graphs. Concretely, we conduct causal discovery from the perspective of Granger causality and propose a self-explainable imitation learning framework, CAIL. The proposed framework is composed of three parts: a dynamic causal discovery module, a causality encoding module, and a prediction module, and is trained in an end-to-end manner. After the model is learned, we can obtain causal relations among states and action variables behind its decisions, exposing policies learned by it. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed CAIL in learning the dynamic causal graphs for understanding the decision-making of imitation learning meanwhilemaintaining high prediction accuracy.

Calibrate Graph Neural Networks under Out-of-Distribution Nodes via Deep Q-learning

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have achieved great success in dealing with graph-structured data that are prevalent in the real world. The core of graph neural networks is the message passing mechanism that aims to generate the embeddings of nodes by aggregating the neighboring node information. However, recent work suggests that GNNs also suffer the trustworthiness issues. Our empirical study shows that the calibration error of the in-distribution (ID) nodes would be exacerbated if a graph is mixed with out-of-distribution (OOD) nodes, and we assume that the noisy information from OOD nodes is the root for the worsened calibration error. Both previous study and our empirical study suggest that adjusting the weights of edges could be a promising way to reduce the adverse impact from the OOD nodes. However, how to precisely select the desired edges and modify the corresponding weights is not trivial, since the distribution of OOD nodes is unknown to us. To tackle this problem, we propose a Graph Edge Re-weighting via Deep Q-learning (GERDQ) framework to calibrate the graph neural networks. Our framework aims to explore the potential influence of the change of the edge weights on target ID nodes by sampling and traversing the edges in the graph, and we formulate this process as a Markov Decision Process (MDP). Many existing GNNs could be seamlessly incorporated into our framework. Experimental results show that when wrapped with our method, the existing GNN models can yield lower calibration error under OOD nodes as well as comparable accuracy compared to the original ones and other strong baselines. The source code is available at:

Few-Shot Video Classification via Representation Fusion and Promotion Learning

Recent few-shot video classification (FSVC) works achieve promising performance by capturing similarity across support and query samples with different temporal alignment strategies or learning discriminative features via Transformer block within each episode. However, they ignore two important issues: a) It is difficult to capture rich intrinsic action semantics from a limited number of support instances within each task. b) Redundant or irrelevant frames in videos easily weaken the positive influence of discriminative frames. To address these two issues, this paper proposes a novel Representation Fusion and Promotion Learning (RFPL) mechanism with two sub-modules: meta-action learning (MAL) and reinforced image representation (RIR). Concretely, during training stage, we perform online learning for seeking a task-shared meta-action bank to enrich task-specific action representation by injecting global knowledge. Besides, we exploit reinforcement learning to obtain the importance of each frame and refine the representation. This operation maximizes the contribution of discriminative frames to further capture the similarity of support and query samples from the same category. Our RFPL framework is highly flexible that it can be integrated with many existing FSVC methods. Extensive experiments show that RFPL significantly enhances the performance of existing FSVC models when integrated with them.

T-Cell Receptor Optimization with Reinforcement Learning and Mutation Polices for Precision Immunotherapy

T cells monitor the health status of cells by identifying foreign peptides displayed on their surface. T-cell receptors (TCRs), which are protein complexes found on the surface of T cells, are able to bind to these peptides. This process is known as TCR recognition and constitutes a key step for immune response. Optimizing TCR sequences for TCR recognition represents a fundamental step towards the development of personalized treatments to trigger immune responses killing cancerous or virus-infected cells. In this paper, we formulated the search for these optimized TCRs as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem and presented a framework TCRPPO with a mutation policy using proximal policy optimization. TCRPPO mutates TCRs into effective ones that can recognize given peptides. TCRPPO leverages a reward function that combines the likelihoods of mutated sequences being valid TCRs measured by a new scoring function based on deep autoencoders, with the probabilities of mutated sequences recognizing peptides from a peptide-TCR interaction predictor. We compared TCRPPO with multiple baseline methods and demonstrated that TCRPPO significantly outperforms all the baseline methods to generate positive binding and valid TCRs. These results demonstrate the potential of TCRPPO for both precision immunotherapy and peptide-recognizing TCR motif discovery.

APT: Adaptive Perceptual quality based camera Tuning using reinforcement learning

Cameras are increasingly being deployed in cities, enterprises and roads world-wide to enable many applications in public safety, intelligent transportation, retail, healthcare and manufacturing. Often, after initial deployment of the cameras, the environmental conditions and the scenes around these cameras change, and our experiments show that these changes can adversely impact the accuracy of insights from video analytics. This is because the camera parameter settings, though optimal at deployment time, are not the best settings for good-quality video capture as the environmental conditions and scenes around a camera change during operation. Capturing poor-quality video adversely affects the accuracy of analytics. To mitigate the loss in accuracy of insights, we propose a novel, reinforcement-learning based system APT that dynamically, and remotely (over 5G networks), tunes the camera parameters, to ensure a high-quality video capture, which mitigates any loss in accuracy of video analytics. As a result, such tuning restores the accuracy of insights when environmental conditions or scene content change. APT uses reinforcement learning, with no-reference perceptual quality estimation as the reward function. We conducted extensive real-world experiments, where we simultaneously deployed two cameras side-by-side overlooking an enterprise parking lot (one camera only has manufacturer-suggested default setting, while the other camera is dynamically tuned by APT during operation). Our experiments demonstrated that due to dynamic tuning by APT, the analytics insights are consistently better at all times of the day: the accuracy of object detection video analytics application was improved on average by ∼ 42%. Since our reward function is independent of any analytics task, APT can be readily used for different video analytics tasks.

DataX Allocator: Dynamic resource management for stream analytics at the Edge

Serverless edge computing aims to deploy and manage applications so that developers are unaware of challenges associated with dynamic management, sharing, and maintenance of the edge infrastructure. However, this is a non-trivial task because the resource usage by various edge applications varies based on the content in their input sensor data streams. We present a novel reinforcement-learning (RL) technique to maximize the processing rates of applications by dynamically allocating resources (like CPU cores or memory) to microservices in these applications. We model applications as analytics pipelines consisting of several microservices, and a pipeline’s processing rate directly impacts the accuracy of insights from the application. In our unique problem formulation, the state space or the number of actions of RL is independent of the type of workload in the microservices, the number of microservices in a pipeline, or the number of pipelines. This enables us to learn the RL model only once and use it many times to improve the accuracy of insights for a diverse set of AI/ML engines like action recognition or face recognition and applications with varying microservices. Our experiments with real-world applications, i.e., face recognition and action recognition, show that our approach outperforms other widely-used alternative approaches and achieves up to 2.5X improvement in the overall application processing rate. Furthermore, when we apply our RL model trained on a face recognition pipeline to a different and more complex action recognition pipeline, we obtain a 2X improvement in processing rate, thus showing the versatility and robustness of our RL model to pipeline changes.

Enhancing Video Analytics Accuracy via Real-time Automated Camera Parameter Tuning

In Video Analytics Pipelines (VAP), Analytics Units (AUs) such as object detection and face recognition running on remote servers critically rely on surveillance cameras to capture high-quality video streams in order to achieve high accuracy. Modern IP cameras come with a large number of camera parameters that directly affect the quality of the video stream capture. While a few of such parameters, e.g., exposure, focus, white balance are automatically adjusted by the camera internally, the remaining ones are not. We denote such camera parameters as non-automated (NAUTO) parameters. In this paper, we first show that environmental condition changes can have significant adverse effect on the accuracy of insights from the AUs, but such adverse impact can potentially be mitigated by dynamically adjusting NAUTO camera parameters in response to changes in environmental conditions. We then present CamTuner, to our knowledge, the first framework that dynamically adapts NAUTO camera parameters to optimize the accuracy of AUs in a VAP in response to adverse changes in environmental conditions. CamTuner is based on SARSA reinforcement learning and it incorporates two novel components: a light-weight analytics quality estimator and a virtual camera that drastically speed up offline RL training. Our controlled experiments and real-world VAP deployment show that compared to a VAP using the default camera setting, CamTuner enhances VAP accuracy by detecting 15.9% additional persons and 2.6%–4.2% additional cars (without any false positives) in a large enterprise parking lot and 9.7% additional cars in a 5G smart traffic intersection scenario, which enables a new usecase of accurate and reliable automatic vehicle collision prediction (AVCP). CamTuner opens doors for new ways to significantly enhance video analytics accuracy beyond incremental improvements from refining deep-learning models.

Application-specific, Dynamic Reservation of 5G Compute and Network Resources by using Reinforcement Learning

5G services and applications explicitly reserve compute and network resources in today’s complex and dynamic infrastructure of multi-tiered computing and cellular networking to ensure application-specific service quality metrics, and the infrastructure providers charge the 5G services for the resources reserved. A static, one-time reservation of resources at service deployment typically results in extended periods of under-utilization of reserved resources during the lifetime of the service operation. This is due to a plethora of reasons like changes in content from the IoT sensors (for example, change in number of people in the field of view of a camera) or a change in the environmental conditions around the IoT sensors (for example, time of the day, rain or fog can affect data acquisition by sensors). Under-utilization of a specific resource like compute can also be due to temporary inadequate availability of another resource like the network bandwidth in a dynamic 5G infrastructure. We propose a novel Reinforcement Learning-based online method to dynamically adjust an application’s compute and network resource reservations to minimize under-utilization of requested resources, while ensuring acceptable service quality metrics. We observe that a complex application-specific coupling exists between the compute and network usage of an application. Our proposed method learns this coupling during the operation of the service, and dynamically modulates the compute and network resource requests to mimimize under-utilization of reserved resources. Through experimental evaluation using real-world video analytics application, we show that our technique is able to capture complex compute-network coupling relationship in an online manner i.e. while the application is running, and dynamically adapts and saves up to 65% compute and 93% network resources on average (over multiple runs), without significantly impacting application accuracy.

Learning Transferable Reward for Query Object Localization with Policy Adaptation

We propose a reinforcement learning-based approach to query object localization, for which an agent is trained to localize objects of interest specified by a small exemplary set. We learn a transferable reward signal formulated using the exemplary set by ordinal metric learning. Our proposed method enables test-time policy adaptation to new environments where the reward signals are not readily available and outperforms fine-tuning approaches that are limited to annotated images. In addition, the transferable reward allows repurposing the trained agent from one specific class to another class. Experiments on corrupted MNIST, CU-Birds, and COCO datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

DataXe: A System for Application Self-optimization in Serverless Edge Computing Environments

A key barrier to building performant, remotely managed and self-optimizing multi-sensor, distributed stream processing edge applications is high programming complexity. We recently proposed DataX [1], a novel platform that improves programmer productivity by enabling easy exchange, transformations, and fusion of data streams on virtualized edge computing infrastructure. This paper extends DataX to include (a) serverless computing that automatically scales stateful and stateless analytics units (AUs) on virtualized edge environments, (b) novel communication mechanisms that efficiently communicate data among analytics units, and (c) new techniques to promote automatic reuse and sharing of analytics processing across multiple applications in a lights out, serverless computing environment. Synthesizing these capabilities into a single platform has been substantially more transformative than any available stream processing system for the edge. We refer to this enhanced and efficient version of DataX as DataXe. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first serverless system for stream processing. For a real-world video analytics application, we observed that the performance of the DataXe implementation of the analytics application is about 3X faster than a standalone implementation of the analytics application with custom, handcrafted communication, multiprocessing and allocation of edge resources.