Rajendran, Janarthanan, Ganhotra, Jatin, Guo, Xiaoxiao, Yu, Mo, Singh, Satinder

Many natural language processing tasks require dealing with Named Entities (NEs) in the texts themselves and sometimes also in external knowledge sources. While this is often easy for humans, recent neural methods that rely on learned word embeddings for NLP tasks have difficulty with it, especially with out of vocabulary or rare NEs. In this paper, we propose a new neural method for this problem, and present empirical evaluations on a structured Question-Answering task, three related Goal-Oriented dialog tasks and a reading-comprehension-based task. They show that our proposed method can be effective in dealing with both in-vocabulary and out of vocabulary (OOV) NEs. We create extended versions of dialog bAbI tasks 1,2 and 4 and Out-of-vocabulary (OOV) versions of the CBT test set which will be made publicly available online.

Zheng, Zeyu, Oh, Junhyuk, Singh, Satinder

In many sequential decision making tasks, it is challenging to design reward functions that help an RL agent efficiently learn behavior that is considered good by the agent designer. A number of different formulations of the reward-design problem, or close variants thereof, have been proposed in the literature. In this paper we build on the Optimal Rewards Framework of Singh et.al. that defines the optimal intrinsic reward function as one that when used by an RL agent achieves behavior that optimizes the task-specifying or extrinsic reward function. Previous work in this framework has shown how good intrinsic reward functions can be learned for lookahead search based planning agents. Whether it is possible to learn intrinsic reward functions for learning agents remains an open problem. In this paper we derive a novel algorithm for learning intrinsic rewards for policy-gradient based learning agents. We compare the performance of an augmented agent that uses our algorithm to provide additive intrinsic rewards to an A2C-based policy learner (for Atari games) and a PPO-based policy learner (for Mujoco domains) with a baseline agent that uses the same policy learners but with only extrinsic rewards. Our results show improved performance on most but not all of the domains.

Modi, Aditya, Jiang, Nan, Singh, Satinder, Tewari, Ambuj

We consider a reinforcement learning (RL) setting in which the agent interacts with a sequence of episodic MDPs. At the start of each episode the agent has access to some side-information or context that determines the dynamics of the MDP for that episode. Our setting is motivated by applications in healthcare where baseline measurements of a patient at the start of a treatment episode form the context that may provide information about how the patient might respond to treatment decisions. We propose algorithms for learning in such Contextual Markov Decision Processes (CMDPs) under an assumption that the unobserved MDP parameters vary smoothly with the observed context. We also give lower and upper PAC bounds under the smoothness assumption. Because our lower bound has an exponential dependence on the dimension, we consider a tractable linear setting where the context is used to create linear combinations of a finite set of MDPs. For the linear setting, we give a PAC learning algorithm based on KWIK learning techniques.

Amin, Kareem, Jiang, Nan, Singh, Satinder

We introduce a novel repeated Inverse Reinforcement Learning problem: the agent has to act on behalf of a human in a sequence of tasks and wishes to minimize the number of tasks that it surprises the human by acting suboptimally with respect to how the human would have acted. Each time the human is surprised, the agent is provided a demonstration of the desired behavior by the human. We formalize this problem, including how the sequence of tasks is chosen, in a few different ways and provide some foundational results.

Zhang, Qi (University of Michigan) | Singh, Satinder (University of Michigan) | Durfee, Edmund (University of Michigan)

In cooperative multiagent planning, it can often be beneficial for an agent to make commitments about aspects of its behavior to others, allowing them in turn to plan their own behaviors without taking the agent's detailed behavior into account. Extending previous work in the Bayesian setting, we consider instead a worst-case setting in which the agent has a set of possible environments (MDPs) it could be in, and develop a commitment semantics that allows for probabilistic guarantees on the agent's behavior in any of the environments it could end up facing. Crucially, an agent receives observations (of reward and state transitions) that allow it to potentially eliminate possible environments and thus obtain higher utility by adapting its policy to the history of observations. We develop algorithms and provide theory and some preliminary empirical results showing that they ensure an agent meets its commitments with history-dependent policies while minimizing maximum regret over the possible environments.

Zhang, Shun (University of Michigan) | Durfee, Edmund (University of Michigan) | Singh, Satinder (University of Michigan)

When planning actions to take on behalf of its human operator, a robot might be uncertain about its operator's reward function. We address the problem of how the robot should formulate an (approximately) optimal query to pose to the operator, given how its uncertainty affects which policies it should plan to pursue. We explain how a robot whose queries ask the operator to choose the best from among k choices can, without loss of optimality, restrict consideration to choices only over alternative policies. Further, we present a method for constructing an approximately-optimal policy query that enjoys a performance bound, where the method need not enumerate all policies. Finally, because queries posed to the operator of a robotic system are often expressed in terms of preferences over trajectories rather than policies, we show how our constructed policy query can be projected into the space of trajectory queries. Our empirical results demonstrate that our projection technique can outperform prior techniques for choosing trajectory queries, particularly when the number of trajectories the operator is asked to compare is small.

Jiang, Nan (University of Michigan) | Kulesza, Alex (University of Michigan) | Singh, Satinder (University of Michigan)

Predictive state representations (PSRs) model dynamical systems using appropriately chosen predictions about future observations as a representation of the current state. In contrast to the hidden states posited by HMMs or RNNs, PSR states are directly observable in the training data; this gives rise to a moment-matching spectral algorithm for learning PSRs that is computationally efficient and statistically consistent when the model complexity matches that of the true system generating the data. In practice, however, model mismatch is inevitable and while spectral learning remains appealingly fast and simple it may fail to find optimal models. To address this problem, we investigate the use of gradient methods for improving spectrally-learned PSRs. We show that only a small amount of additional gradient optimization can lead to significant performance gains, and moreover that initializing gradient methods with the spectral learning solution yields better models in significantly less time than starting from scratch.

Oh, Junhyuk, Guo, Xiaoxiao, Lee, Honglak, Lewis, Richard, Singh, Satinder

Motivated by vision-based reinforcement learning (RL) problems, in particular Atari games from the recent benchmark Aracade Learning Environment (ALE), we consider spatio-temporal prediction problems where future (image-)frames are dependent on control variables or actions as well as previous frames. While not composed of natural scenes, frames in Atari games are high-dimensional in size, can involve tens of objects with one or more objects being controlled by the actions directly and many other objects being influenced indirectly, can involve entry and departure of objects, and can involve deep partial observability. We propose and evaluate two deep neural network architectures that consist of encoding, action-conditional transformation, and decoding layers based on convolutional neural networks and recurrent neural networks. Experimental results show that the proposed architectures are able to generate visually-realistic frames that are also useful for control over approximately 100-step action-conditional futures in some games. To the best of our knowledge, this paper is the first to make and evaluate long-term predictions on high-dimensional video conditioned by control inputs.

Durfee, Edmund H. (University of Michigan) | Singh, Satinder (University of Michigan)

A commitment represents an agent's intention to attempt to bring about some state of the world that is desired by some agent (possibly itself) in the future. Thus, by making a commitment, an agent is agreeing to make sequential decisions that it believes can cause the desired state to arise. In general, though, an agent's actions will have uncertain outcomes, and thus reaching the desired state cannot be guaranteed. For such sequential decision settings with uncertainty, therefore, commitments can only be probabilistic. We argue that standard notions of commitment are insufficient for probabilistic commitments, and propose a new semantics that judges commitment fulfillment not in terms of whether the agent achieved the desired state, but rather in terms of whether the agent made sequential decisions that in expectation would have achieved the desired state with (at least) the promised probability. We have devised various algorithms that operationalize our semantics, to capture problem contexts with probabilistic commitments arising because action outcomes are uncertain, as well as arising because an agent might realize over time that it does not want to fulfill the commitment.

Kulesza, Alex (University of Michigan) | Jiang, Nan (University of Michigan) | Singh, Satinder (University of Michigan)

Predictive state representations (PSRs) are models of dynamical systems that represent state as a vector of predictions about future observable events (tests) conditioned on past observed events (histories). If a practitioner selects finite sets of tests and histories that are known to be sufficient to completely capture the system, an exact PSR can be learned in polynomial time using spectral methods. However, most real-world systems are complex, and in practice computational constraints limit us to small sets of tests and histories which are therefore never truly sufficient. How, then, should we choose these sets? Existing theory offers little guidance here, and yet we show that the choice is highly consequential -- tests and histories selected at random or by a naive rule significantly underperform the best sets. In this paper we approach the problem both theoretically and empirically. While any fixed system can be represented by an infinite number of equivalent but distinct PSRs, we show that in the computationally unconstrained setting, where existing theory guarantees accurate predictions, the PSRs learned by spectral methods always satisfy a particular spectral bound. Adapting this idea, we propose a simple algorithmic technique to search for sets of tests and histories that approximately satisfy the bound while respecting computational limits. Empirically, our method significantly reduces prediction errors compared to standard spectral learning approaches.