Relative Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning

Abdeslam Boularias, Jens Kober, Jan Peters; JMLR W&CP 15:182-189, 2011.

Abstract

We consider the problem of imitation learning where the examples, demonstrated by an expert, cover only a small part of a large state space. Inverse Reinforcement Learning (IRL) provides an efficient tool for generalizing the demonstration, based on the assumption that the expert is optimally acting in a Markov Decision Process (MDP). Most of the past work on IRL requires that a (near)-optimal policy can be computed for different reward functions. However, this requirement can hardly be satisfied in systems with a large, or continuous, state space. In this paper, we propose a model-free IRL algorithm, where the relative entropy between the empirical distribution of the state-action trajectories under a baseline policy and their distribution under the learned policy is minimized by stochastic gradient descent. We compare this new approach to well-known IRL algorithms using learned MDP models. Empirical results on simulated car racing, gridworld and ball-in-a-cup problems show that our approach is able to learn good policies from a small number of demonstrations.

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