Levine, Sergey, Popovic, Zoran, Koltun, Vladlen

We present a probabilistic algorithm for nonlinear inverse reinforcement learning. The goal of inverse reinforcement learning is to learn the reward function in a Markov decision process from expert demonstrations. While most prior inverse reinforcement learning algorithms represent the reward as a linear combination of a set of features, we use Gaussian processes to learn the reward as a nonlinear function, while also determining the relevance of each feature to the expert's policy. Our probabilistic algorithm allows complex behaviors to be captured from suboptimal stochastic demonstrations, while automatically balancing the simplicity of the learned reward structure against its consistency with the observed actions.

Inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) is used to infer the reward function from the actions of an expert running a Markov Decision Process (MDP). A novel approach using variational inference for learning the reward function is proposed in this research. Using this technique, the intractable posterior distribution of the continuous latent variable (the reward function in this case) is analytically approximated to appear to be as close to the prior belief while trying to reconstruct the future state conditioned on the current state and action. The reward function is derived using a well-known deep generative model known as Conditional Variational Auto-encoder (CVAE) with Wasserstein loss function, thus referred to as Conditional Wasserstein Auto-encoder-IRL (CWAE-IRL), which can be analyzed as a combination of the backward and forward inference. This can then form an efficient alternative to the previous approaches to IRL while having no knowledge of the system dynamics of the agent. Experimental results on standard benchmarks such as objectworld and pendulum show that the proposed algorithm can effectively learn the latent reward function in complex, high-dimensional environments.

Kalweit, Gabriel, Huegle, Maria, Werling, Moritz, Boedecker, Joschka

Popular Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning approaches require the computation of expected state visitation frequencies for the optimal policy under an estimate of the reward function. This usually requires intermediate value estimation in the inner loop of the algorithm, slowing down convergence considerably. In this work, we introduce a novel class of algorithms that only needs to solve the MDP underlying the demonstrated behavior once to recover the expert policy. This is possible through a formulation that exploits a probabilistic behavior assumption for the demonstrations within the structure of Q-learning. We propose Inverse Action-value Iteration which is able to fully recover an underlying reward of an external agent in closed-form analytically. We further provide an accompanying class of sampling-based variants which do not depend on a model of the environment. We show how to extend this class of algorithms to continuous state-spaces via function approximation and how to estimate a corresponding action-value function, leading to a policy as close as possible to the policy of the external agent, while optionally satisfying a list of predefined hard constraints. We evaluate the resulting algorithms called Inverse Action-value Iteration, Inverse Q-learning and Deep Inverse Q-learning on the Objectworld benchmark, showing a speedup of up to several orders of magnitude compared to (Deep) Max-Entropy algorithms. We further apply Deep Constrained Inverse Q-learning on the task of learning autonomous lane-changes in the open-source simulator SUMO achieving competent driving after training on data corresponding to 30 minutes of demonstrations.

Arora, Saurabh, Doshi, Prashant

Inverse reinforcement learning is the problem of inferring the reward function of an observed agent, given its policy or behavior. Researchers perceive IRL both as a problem and as a class of methods. By categorically surveying the current literature in IRL, this article serves as a reference for researchers and practitioners in machine learning to understand the challenges of IRL and select the approaches best suited for the problem on hand. The survey formally introduces the IRL problem along with its central challenges which include accurate inference, generalizability, correctness of prior knowledge, and growth in solution complexity with problem size. The article elaborates how the current methods mitigate these challenges. We further discuss the extensions of traditional IRL methods: (i) inaccurate and incomplete perception, (ii) incomplete model, (iii) multiple rewards, and (iv) non-linear reward functions. This discussion concludes with some broad advances in the research area and currently open research questions.

Lee, Kyungjae, Choi, Sungjoon, Oh, Songhwai

In this paper, we propose a novel maximum causal Tsallis entropy (MCTE) framework for imitation learning which can efficiently learn a sparse multi-modal policy distribution from demonstrations. We provide the full mathematical analysis of the proposed framework. First, the optimal solution of an MCTE problem is shown to be a sparsemax distribution, whose supporting set can be adjusted. The proposed method has advantages over a softmax distribution in that it can exclude unnecessary actions by assigning zero probability. Second, we prove that an MCTE problem is equivalent to robust Bayes estimation in the sense of the Brier score. Third, we propose a maximum causal Tsallis entropy imitation learning (MCTEIL) algorithm with a sparse mixture density network (sparse MDN) by modeling mixture weights using a sparsemax distribution. In particular, we show that the causal Tsallis entropy of an MDN encourages exploration and efficient mixture utilization while Boltzmann Gibbs entropy is less effective. We validate the proposed method in two simulation studies and MCTEIL outperforms existing imitation learning methods in terms of average returns and learning multi-modal policies.