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Vanilla GCSL

This repository contains a vanilla implementation of “Learning to Reach Goals via Iterated Supervised Learning” proposed by Dibya Gosh et al. in 2019.

In short, the paper proposes a learning framework to progressively refine a goal-conditioned imitation policy pi_k(a_t|s_t,g) based on relabeling past experiences as new training goals. In particular, the approach iteratively performs the following steps: a) sample a new goal g and collect experiences using pi_k(-|-,g), b) relabel trajectories such that reached states become surrogate goals (details below) and c) update the policy pi_(k+1) using a behavioral cloning objective. The approach is self-supervised and does not necessarily rely on expert demonstrations or reward functions. The paper shows, that training for these surrogate tuples actually leads to desirable goal-reaching behavior.

Relabeling details Let (s_t,a_t,g) be a state-action-goal tuple from an experienced trajectory and (s_(t+r),a_(t+r),g) any future state reached within the same trajectory. While the agent might have failed to reach g, we may construct the relabeled training objective (s_t,a_t,s_(t+r)), since s_(t+r) was actually reached via s_t,a_t,s_(t+1),a_(t+1)...s_(t+r).

Discussion By definition according to the paper, an optimal policy is one that reaches it goals. In this sense, previous experiences where relabeling has been performed constitute optimal self-supervised training data, regardless of the current state of the policy. Hence, old data can be reused at all times to improve the current policy. A potential drawback of this optimality definition is the absence of an efficient goal reaching behavior notion. However, the paper (and subsequent experiments) show experimentally that the resulting behavioral strategies are fairly goal-directed.

About this repository

This repository contains a vanilla, easy-to-understand PyTorch-based implementation of the proposed method and applies it to an customized Cartpole environment. In particular, the goal of the adapted Cartpole environment is to: a) maintain an upright pole (zero pole angle) and to reach a particular cart position (shown in red). A qualitative performance comparison of two agents at different training times is shown below. Training started with a random policy, no expert demonstrations were used.

1,000 steps 5,000 steps 20,000 steps

Dynamic environment experiments

Since we condition our policy on goals, nothing stops us from changing the goals over time, i.e g -> g(t). The following animation shows the agent successfully chasing a moving goal.

Parallel environments

The branch parallel-ray-envs hosts the same cartpole example but training is speed-up via ray primitives. In particular, environments rollouts are parallelized and trajectory results are incorporated on the fly. The parallel version is roughly 35% faster than the sequential one. Its currently not merged with main, since it requires a bit more code to digest.

Run the code


pip install git+

and start training via

python -m gcsl.examples.cartpole train

which will save models to ./tmp/cartpoleagent_xxxxx.pth. To evaluate, run

python -m gcsl.examples.cartpole eval ./tmp/cartpolenet_20000.pth

See command line options for tuning. The above animation for the dynamic goal was created via the following command

python -m examples.cartpole eval ^
 tmp\cartpolenet_20000.pth ^
 -seed 123 ^
 -num-episodes 1 ^
 -max-steps 500 ^
 -goal-xmin "-1" ^
 -goal-xmax "1" ^
 --dynamic-goal ^


title={Learning to Reach Goals via Iterated Supervised Learning},
author={Dibya Ghosh and Abhishek Gupta and Ashwin Reddy and Justin Fu and Coline Manon Devin and Benjamin Eysenbach and Sergey Levine},
booktitle={International Conference on Learning Representations},