I2RL: Online Inverse Reinforcement Learning Under Occlusion

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Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering


© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) is the problem of learning the preferences of an agent from observing its behavior on a task. It inverts RL which focuses on learning an agent’s behavior on a task based on the reward signals received. IRL is witnessing sustained attention due to promising applications in robotics, computer games, and finance, as well as in other sectors. Methods for IRL have, for the most part, focused on batch settings where the observed agent’s behavioral data has already been collected. However, the related problem of online IRL—where observations are incrementally accrued, yet the real-time demands of the application often prohibit a full rerun of an IRL method—has received significantly less attention. We introduce the first formal framework for online IRL, called incremental IRL (I2RL), which can serve as a common ground for online IRL methods. We demonstrate the usefulness of this framework by casting existing online IRL techniques into this framework. Importantly, we present a new method that advances maximum entropy IRL with hidden variables to the online setting. Our analysis shows that the new method has monotonically improving performance with more demonstration data as well as probabilistically bounded error, both under full and partial observability. Simulated and physical robot experiments in a multi-robot patrolling application situated in varied-sized worlds, which involves learning under high levels of occlusion, show a significantly improved performance of I2RL as compared to both batch IRL and an online imitation learning method.

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Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems