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Reinforcement Learning

Hall G

Moderator: Pulkit Agrawal


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Thu 21 July 7:30 - 7:50 PDT

Outstanding Paper
The Importance of Non-Markovianity in Maximum State Entropy Exploration

Mirco Mutti · Riccardo De Santi · Marcello Restelli

In the maximum state entropy exploration framework, an agent interacts with a reward-free environment to learn a policy that maximizes the entropy of the expected state visitations it is inducing. Hazan et al. (2019) noted that the class of Markovian stochastic policies is sufficient for the maximum state entropy objective, and exploiting non-Markovianity is generally considered pointless in this setting. In this paper, we argue that non-Markovianity is instead paramount for maximum state entropy exploration in a finite-sample regime. Especially, we recast the objective to target the expected entropy of the induced state visitations in a single trial. Then, we show that the class of non-Markovian deterministic policies is sufficient for the introduced objective, while Markovian policies suffer non-zero regret in general. However, we prove that the problem of finding an optimal non-Markovian policy is NP-hard. Despite this negative result, we discuss avenues to address the problem in a tractable way and how non-Markovian exploration could benefit the sample efficiency of online reinforcement learning in future works.

Thu 21 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT

Continuous Control with Action Quantization from Demonstrations

Robert Dadashi · Léonard Hussenot · Damien Vincent · Sertan Girgin · Anton Raichuk · Matthieu Geist · Olivier Pietquin

In this paper, we propose a novel Reinforcement Learning (RL) framework for problems with continuous action spaces: Action Quantization from Demonstrations (AQuaDem). The proposed approach consists in learning a discretization of continuous action spaces from human demonstrations. This discretization returns a set of plausible actions (in light of the demonstrations) for each input state, thus capturing the priors of the demonstrator and their multimodal behavior. By discretizing the action space, any discrete action deep RL technique can be readily applied to the continuous control problem. Experiments show that the proposed approach outperforms state-of-the-art methods such as SAC in the RL setup, and GAIL in the Imitation Learning setup. We provide a website with interactive videos: and make the code available:

Thu 21 July 7:55 - 8:00 PDT

Plan Your Target and Learn Your Skills: Transferable State-Only Imitation Learning via Decoupled Policy Optimization

Minghuan Liu · Zhengbang Zhu · Yuzheng Zhuang · Weinan Zhang · Jianye Hao · Yong Yu · Jun Wang

Recent progress in state-only imitation learning extends the scope of applicability of imitation learning to real-world settings by relieving the need for observing expert actions.However, existing solutions only learn to extract a state-to-action mapping policy from the data, without considering how the expert plans to the target. This hinders the ability to leverage demonstrations and limits the flexibility of the policy.In this paper, we introduce Decoupled Policy Optimization (DePO), which explicitly decouples the policy as a high-level state planner and an inverse dynamics model. With embedded decoupled policy gradient and generative adversarial training, DePO enables knowledge transfer to different action spaces or state transition dynamics, and can generalize the planner to out-of-demonstration state regions.Our in-depth experimental analysis shows the effectiveness of DePO on learning a generalized target state planner while achieving the best imitation performance. We demonstrate the appealing usage of DePO for transferring across different tasks by pre-training, and the potential for co-training agents with various skills.

Thu 21 July 8:00 - 8:05 PDT

Inverse Contextual Bandits: Learning How Behavior Evolves over Time

Alihan Hüyük · Daniel Jarrett · Mihaela van der Schaar

Understanding a decision-maker's priorities by observing their behavior is critical for transparency and accountability in decision processes—such as in healthcare. Though conventional approaches to policy learning almost invariably assume stationarity in behavior, this is hardly true in practice: Medical practice is constantly evolving as clinical professionals fine-tune their knowledge over time. For instance, as the medical community's understanding of organ transplantations has progressed over the years, a pertinent question is: How have actual organ allocation policies been evolving? To give an answer, we desire a policy learning method that provides interpretable representations of decision-making, in particular capturing an agent's non-stationary knowledge of the world, as well as operating in an offline manner. First, we model the evolving behavior of decision-makers in terms of contextual bandits, and formalize the problem of Inverse Contextual Bandits ("ICB"). Second, we propose two concrete algorithms as solutions, learning parametric and non-parametric representations of an agent's behavior. Finally, using both real and simulated data for liver transplantations, we illustrate the applicability and explainability of our method, as well as benchmarking and validating the accuracy of our algorithms.

Thu 21 July 8:05 - 8:10 PDT

Balancing Sample Efficiency and Suboptimality in Inverse Reinforcement Learning

Angelo Damiani · Giorgio Manganini · Alberto Maria Metelli · Marcello Restelli

We propose a novel formulation for the Inverse Reinforcement Learning (IRL) problem, which jointly accounts for the compatibility with the expert behavior of the identified reward and its effectiveness for the subsequent forward learning phase. Albeit quite natural, especially when the final goal is apprenticeship learning (learning policies from an expert), this aspect has been completely overlooked by IRL approaches so far.We propose a new model-free IRL method that is remarkably able to autonomously find a trade-off between the error induced on the learned policy when potentially choosing a sub-optimal reward, and the estimation error caused by using finite samples in the forward learning phase, which can be controlled by explicitly optimizing also the discount factor of the related learning problem. The approach is based on a min-max formulation for the robust selection of the reward parameters and the discount factor so that the distance between the expert's policy and the learned policy is minimized in the successive forward learning task when a finite and possibly small number of samples is available.Differently from the majority of other IRL techniques, our approach does not involve any planning or forward Reinforcement Learning problems to be solved. After presenting the formulation, we provide a numerical scheme for the optimization, and we show its effectiveness on an illustrative numerical case.

Thu 21 July 8:10 - 8:15 PDT

Towards Uniformly Superhuman Autonomy via Subdominance Minimization

Brian Ziebart · Sanjiban Choudhury · Xinyan Yan · Paul Vernaza

Prevalent imitation learning methods seek to produce behavior that matches or exceeds average human performance. This often prevents achieving expert-level or superhuman performance when identifying the better demonstrations to imitate is difficult. We instead assume demonstrations are of varying quality and seek to induce behavior that is unambiguously better (i.e., Pareto dominant or minimally subdominant) than all human demonstrations. Our minimum subdominance inverse optimal control training objective is primarily defined by high quality demonstrations; lower quality demonstrations, which are more easily dominated, are effectively ignored instead of degrading imitation. With increasing probability, our approach produces superhuman behavior incurring lower cost than demonstrations on the demonstrator’s unknown cost function—even if that cost function differs for each demonstration. We apply our approach on a computer cursor pointing task, producing behavior that is 78% superhuman, while minimizing demonstration suboptimality provides 50% superhuman behavior—and only 72% even after selective data cleaning.

Thu 21 July 8:15 - 8:35 PDT

Causal Imitation Learning under Temporally Correlated Noise

Gokul Swamy · Sanjiban Choudhury · James Bagnell · Steven Wu

We develop algorithms for imitation learning from policy data that was corrupted by temporally correlated noise in expert actions. When noise affects multiple timesteps of recorded data, it can manifest as spurious correlations between states and actions that a learner might latch on to, leading to poor policy performance. To break up these spurious correlations, we apply modern variants of the instrumental variable regression (IVR) technique of econometrics, enabling us to recover the underlying policy without requiring access to an interactive expert. In particular, we present two techniques, one of a generative-modeling flavor (DoubIL) that can utilize access to a simulator, and one of a game-theoretic flavor (ResiduIL) that can be run entirely offline. We find both of our algorithms compare favorably to behavioral cloning on simulated control tasks.

Thu 21 July 8:35 - 8:40 PDT

Interactive Inverse Reinforcement Learning for Cooperative Games

Thomas Kleine Buening · Anne-Marie George · Christos Dimitrakakis

We study the problem of designing autonomous agents that can learn to cooperate effectively with a potentially suboptimal partner while having no access to the joint reward function. This problem is modeled as a cooperative episodic two-agent Markov decision process. We assume control over only the first of the two agents in a Stackelberg formulation of the game, where the second agent is acting so as to maximise expected utility given the first agent's policy. How should the first agent act in order to learn the joint reward function as quickly as possible and so that the joint policy is as close to optimal as possible? We analyse how knowledge about the reward function can be gained in this interactive two-agent scenario. We show that when the learning agent's policies have a significant effect on the transition function, the reward function can be learned efficiently.

Thu 21 July 8:40 - 8:45 PDT

A Hierarchical Bayesian Approach to Inverse Reinforcement Learning with Symbolic Reward Machines

Weichao Zhou · Wenchao Li

A misspecified reward can degrade sample efficiency and induce undesired behaviors in reinforcement learning (RL) problems. We propose symbolic reward machines for incorporating high-level task knowledge when specifying the reward signals. Symbolic reward machines augment existing reward machine formalism by allowing transitions to carry predicates and symbolic reward outputs. This formalism lends itself well to inverse reinforcement learning, whereby the key challenge is determining appropriate assignments to the symbolic values from a few expert demonstrations. We propose a hierarchical Bayesian approach for inferring the most likely assignments such that the concretized reward machine can discriminate expert demonstrated trajectories from other trajectories with high accuracy. Experimental results show that learned reward machines can significantly improve training efficiency for complex RL tasks and generalize well across different task environment configurations.

Thu 21 July 8:45 - 8:50 PDT

Robust Imitation Learning against Variations in Environment Dynamics

Jongseong Chae · Seungyul Han · Whiyoung Jung · MYUNG-SIK CHO · Sungho Choi · Youngchul Sung

In this paper, we propose a robust imitation learning (IL) framework that improves the robustness of IL when environment dynamics are perturbed. The existing IL framework trained in a single environment can catastrophically fail with perturbations in environment dynamics because it does not capture the situation that underlying environment dynamics can be changed. Our framework effectively deals with environments with varying dynamics by imitating multiple experts in sampled environment dynamics to enhance the robustness in general variations in environment dynamics. In order to robustly imitate the multiple sample experts, we minimize the risk with respect to the Jensen-Shannon divergence between the agent's policy and each of the sample experts. Numerical results show that our algorithm significantly improves robustness against dynamics perturbations compared to conventional IL baselines.

Thu 21 July 8:50 - 8:55 PDT

Discriminator-Weighted Offline Imitation Learning from Suboptimal Demonstrations

Haoran Xu · Xianyuan Zhan · Honglei Yin · Huiling qin

We study the problem of offline Imitation Learning (IL) where an agent aims to learn an optimal expert behavior policy without additional online environment interactions. Instead, the agent is provided with a supplementary offline dataset from suboptimal behaviors. Prior works that address this problem either require that expert data occupies the majority proportion of the offline dataset, or need to learn a reward function and perform offline reinforcement learning (RL) afterwards. In this paper, we aim to address the problem without additional steps of reward learning and offline RL training for the case when demonstrations contain a large proportion of suboptimal data. Built upon behavioral cloning (BC), we introduce an additional discriminator to distinguish expert and non-expert data. We propose a cooperation framework to boost the learning of both tasks, Based on this framework, we design a new IL algorithm, where the outputs of the discriminator serve as the weights of the BC loss. Experimental results show that our proposed algorithm achieves higher returns and faster training speed compared to baseline algorithms.

Thu 21 July 8:55 - 9:00 PDT

Learning from Demonstration: Provably Efficient Adversarial Policy Imitation with Linear Function Approximation

ZHIHAN LIU · Yufeng Zhang · Zuyue Fu · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

In generative adversarial imitation learning (GAIL), the agent aims to learn a policy from an expert demonstration so that its performance cannot be discriminated from the expert policy on a certain predefined reward set. In this paper, we study GAIL in both online and offline settings with linear function approximation, where both the transition and reward function are linear in the feature maps. Besides the expert demonstration, in the online setting the agent can interact with the environment, while in the offline setting the agent only accesses an additional dataset collected by a prior. For online GAIL, we propose an optimistic generative adversarial policy imitation algorithm (OGAPI) and prove that OGAPI achieves $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{H^4d^3K}+\sqrt{H^3d^2K^2/N_1})$ regret. Here $N_1$ represents the number of trajectories of the expert demonstration, $d$ is the feature dimension, and $K$ is the number of episodes. For offline GAIL, we propose a pessimistic generative adversarial policy imitation algorithm (PGAPI). We also obtain the optimality gap of PGAPI, achieving the minimax lower bound in the utilization of the additional dataset. Assuming sufficient coverage on the additional dataset, we show that PGAPI achieves $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{H^4d^2/K}+\sqrt{H^4d^3/N_2}+\sqrt{H^3d^2/N_1})$ optimality gap. Here $N_2$ represents the number of trajectories of the additional dataset with sufficient coverage.