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Interactive Learning from Activity Description

Khanh Nguyen · Dipendra Misra · Robert Schapire · Miroslav Dudik · Patrick Shafto


We present a novel interactive learning protocol that enables training request-fulfilling agents by verbally describing their activities. Unlike imitation learning (IL), our protocol allows the teaching agent to provide feedback in a language that is most appropriate for them. Compared with reward in reinforcement learning (RL), the description feedback is richer and allows for improved sample complexity. We develop a probabilistic framework and an algorithm that practically implements our protocol. Empirical results in two challenging request-fulfilling problems demonstrate the strengths of our approach: compared with RL baselines, it is more sample-efficient; compared with IL baselines, it achieves competitive success rates without requiring the teaching agent to be able to demonstrate the desired behavior using the learning agent’s actions. Apart from empirical evaluation, we also provide theoretical guarantees for our algorithm under certain assumptions about the teacher and the environment.

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