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Accelerating Evolutionary Design Exploration with Predictive and Generative Models

Adam Gaier 1
1 LARSEN - Lifelong Autonomy and interaction skills for Robots in a Sensing ENvironment
Inria Nancy - Grand Est, LORIA - AIS - Department of Complex Systems, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics
Abstract : Optimization plays an essential role in industrial design, but is not limited to minimization of a simple function, such as cost or strength. These tools are also used in conceptual phases, to better understand what is possible. To support this exploration we focus on Quality Diversity (QD) algorithms, which produce sets of varied, high performing solutions. These techniques often require the evaluation of millions of solutions -- making them impractical in design cases. In this thesis we propose methods to radically improve the data-efficiency of QD with machine learning, enabling its application to design. In our first contribution, we develop a method of modeling the performance of evolved neural networks used for control and design. The structures of these networks grow and change, making them difficult to model -- but with a new method we are able to estimate their performance based on their heredity, improving data-efficiency by several times. In our second contribution we combine model-based optimization with MAP-Elites, a QD algorithm. A model of performance is created from known designs, and MAP-Elites creates a new set of designs using this approximation. A subset of these designs are the evaluated to improve the model, and the process repeats. We show that this approach improves the efficiency of MAP-Elites by orders of magnitude. Our third contribution integrates generative models into MAP-Elites to learn domain specific encodings. A variational autoencoder is trained on the solutions produced by MAP-Elites, capturing the common “recipe” for high performance. This learned encoding can then be reused by other algorithms for rapid optimization, including MAP-Elites. Throughout this thesis, though the focus of our vision is design, we examine applications in other fields, such as robotics. These advances are not exclusive to design, but serve as foundational work on the integration of QD and machine learning.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 12, 2020 - 3:57:00 PM
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Adam Gaier. Accelerating Evolutionary Design Exploration with Predictive and Generative Models. Artificial Intelligence [cs.AI]. Université de Lorraine, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0087⟩. ⟨tel-02964666⟩

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