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Provably Efficient Imitation Learning from Observation Alone

Wen Sun · Anirudh Vemula · Byron Boots · Drew Bagnell

Pacific Ballroom #111

Keywords: [ Theory and Algorithms ]


We study Imitation Learning (IL) from Observations alone (ILFO) in large-scale MDPs. While most IL algorithms rely on an expert to directly provide actions to the learner, in this setting the expert only supplies sequences of observations. We design a new model-free algorithm for ILFO, Forward Adversarial Imitation Learning (FAIL), which learns a sequence of time-dependent policies by minimizing an Integral Probability Metric between the observation distributions of the expert policy and the learner. FAIL provably learns a near-optimal policy with a number of samples that is polynomial in all relevant parameters but independent of the number of unique observations. The resulting theory extends the domain of provably sample efficient learning algorithms beyond existing results that typically only consider tabular RL settings or settings that require access to a near-optimal reset distribution. We also demonstrate the efficacy ofFAIL on multiple OpenAI Gym control tasks.

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