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Jiachen Xi, Alfredo Garcia, Petar Momcilovic

Several successful reinforcement learning algorithms make use of regularization to promote multi-modal policies that exhibit enhanced exploration and robustness. With functional approximation, the convergence properties of some of these algorithms (e.g. soft Q-learning) are not well understood. In this paper, we consider a single-loop algorithm for minimizing the projected Bellman error with finite time convergence guarantees in the case of linear function approximation. The algorithm operates on two scales: a slower scale for updating the target network of the state-action values, and a faster scale for approximating the Bellman backups in the subspace of the span of basis vectors. We show that, under certain assumptions, the proposed algorithm converges to a stationary point in the presence of Markovian noise. In addition, we provide a performance guarantee for the policies derived from the proposed algorithm.

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Johan Engström, Ran Wei, Anthony McDonald, Alfredo Garcia, Matt O'Kelly, Leif Johnson

Understanding adaptive human driving behavior, in particular how drivers manage uncertainty, is of key importance for developing simulated human driver models that can be used in the evaluation and development of autonomous vehicles. However, existing traffic psychology models of adaptive driving behavior either lack computational rigor or only address specific scenarios and/or behavioral phenomena. While models developed in the fields of machine learning and robotics can effectively learn adaptive driving behavior from data, due to their black box nature, they offer little or no explanation of the mechanisms underlying the adaptive behavior. Thus, a generalizable, interpretable, computational model of adaptive human driving behavior is still lacking. This paper proposes such a model based on active inference, a behavioral modeling framework originating in computational neuroscience. The model offers a principled solution to how humans trade progress against caution through policy selection based on the single mandate to minimize expected free energy. This casts goal-seeking and information-seeking (uncertainty-resolving) behavior under a single objective function, allowing the model to seamlessly resolve uncertainty as a means to obtain its goals. We apply the model in two apparently disparate driving scenarios that require managing uncertainty, (1) driving past an occluding object and (2) visual time sharing between driving and a secondary task, and show how human-like adaptive driving behavior emerges from the single principle of expected free energy minimization.

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Ran Wei, Nathan Lambert, Anthony McDonald, Alfredo Garcia, Roberto Calandra

Model-based Reinforcement Learning (MBRL) aims to make agents more sample-efficient, adaptive, and explainable by learning an explicit model of the environment. While the capabilities of MBRL agents have significantly improved in recent years, how to best learn the model is still an unresolved question. The majority of MBRL algorithms aim at training the model to make accurate predictions about the environment and subsequently using the model to determine the most rewarding actions. However, recent research has shown that model predictive accuracy is often not correlated with action quality, tracing the root cause to the \emph{objective mismatch} between accurate dynamics model learning and policy optimization of rewards. A number of interrelated solution categories to the objective mismatch problem have emerged as MBRL continues to mature as a research area. In this work, we provide an in-depth survey of these solution categories and propose a taxonomy to foster future research.

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Ran Wei, Siliang Zeng, Chenliang Li, Alfredo Garcia, Anthony McDonald, Mingyi Hong

We consider a Bayesian approach to offline model-based inverse reinforcement learning (IRL). The proposed framework differs from existing offline model-based IRL approaches by performing simultaneous estimation of the expert's reward function and subjective model of environment dynamics. We make use of a class of prior distributions which parameterizes how accurate the expert's model of the environment is to develop efficient algorithms to estimate the expert's reward and subjective dynamics in high-dimensional settings. Our analysis reveals a novel insight that the estimated policy exhibits robust performance when the expert is believed (a priori) to have a highly accurate model of the environment. We verify this observation in the MuJoCo environments and show that our algorithms outperform state-of-the-art offline IRL algorithms.

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Ran Wei, Anthony D. McDonald, Alfredo Garcia, Gustav Markkula, Johan Engstrom, Matthew O'Kelly

Driver process models play a central role in the testing, verification, and development of automated and autonomous vehicle technologies. Prior models developed from control theory and physics-based rules are limited in automated vehicle applications due to their restricted behavioral repertoire. Data-driven machine learning models are more capable than rule-based models but are limited by the need for large training datasets and their lack of interpretability, i.e., an understandable link between input data and output behaviors. We propose a novel car following modeling approach using active inference, which has comparable behavioral flexibility to data-driven models while maintaining interpretability. We assessed the proposed model, the Active Inference Driving Agent (AIDA), through a benchmark analysis against the rule-based Intelligent Driver Model, and two neural network Behavior Cloning models. The models were trained and tested on a real-world driving dataset using a consistent process. The testing results showed that the AIDA predicted driving controls significantly better than the rule-based Intelligent Driver Model and had similar accuracy to the data-driven neural network models in three out of four evaluations. Subsequent interpretability analyses illustrated that the AIDA's learned distributions were consistent with driver behavior theory and that visualizations of the distributions could be used to directly comprehend the model's decision making process and correct model errors attributable to limited training data. The results indicate that the AIDA is a promising alternative to black-box data-driven models and suggest a need for further research focused on modeling driving style and model training with more diverse datasets.

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Siliang Zeng, Chenliang Li, Alfredo Garcia, Mingyi Hong

Offline inverse reinforcement learning (Offline IRL) aims to recover the structure of rewards and environment dynamics that underlie observed actions in a fixed, finite set of demonstrations from an expert agent. Accurate models of expertise in executing a task has applications in safety-sensitive applications such as clinical decision making and autonomous driving. However, the structure of an expert's preferences implicit in observed actions is closely linked to the expert's model of the environment dynamics (i.e. the ``world''). Thus, inaccurate models of the world obtained from finite data with limited coverage could compound inaccuracy in estimated rewards. To address this issue, we propose a bi-level optimization formulation of the estimation task wherein the upper level is likelihood maximization based upon a conservative model of the expert's policy (lower level). The policy model is conservative in that it maximizes reward subject to a penalty that is increasing in the uncertainty of the estimated model of the world. We propose a new algorithmic framework to solve the bi-level optimization problem formulation and provide statistical and computational guarantees of performance for the associated reward estimator. Finally, we demonstrate that the proposed algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art offline IRL and imitation learning benchmarks by a large margin, over the continuous control tasks in MuJoCo and different datasets in the D4RL benchmark.

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Siliang Zeng, Chenliang Li, Alfredo Garcia, Mingyi Hong

Inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) aims to recover the reward function and the associated optimal policy that best fits observed sequences of states and actions implemented by an expert. Many algorithms for IRL have an inherently nested structure: the inner loop finds the optimal policy given parametrized rewards while the outer loop updates the estimates towards optimizing a measure of fit. For high dimensional environments such nested-loop structure entails a significant computational burden. To reduce the computational burden of a nested loop, novel methods such as SQIL [1] and IQ-Learn [2] emphasize policy estimation at the expense of reward estimation accuracy. However, without accurate estimated rewards, it is not possible to do counterfactual analysis such as predicting the optimal policy under different environment dynamics and/or learning new tasks. In this paper we develop a novel single-loop algorithm for IRL that does not compromise reward estimation accuracy. In the proposed algorithm, each policy improvement step is followed by a stochastic gradient step for likelihood maximization. We show that the proposed algorithm provably converges to a stationary solution with a finite-time guarantee. If the reward is parameterized linearly, we show the identified solution corresponds to the solution of the maximum entropy IRL problem. Finally, by using robotics control problems in MuJoCo and their transfer settings, we show that the proposed algorithm achieves superior performance compared with other IRL and imitation learning benchmarks.

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Siliang Zeng, Mingyi Hong, Alfredo Garcia

We consider the task of estimating a structural model of dynamic decisions by a human agent based upon the observable history of implemented actions and visited states. This problem has an inherent nested structure: in the inner problem, an optimal policy for a given reward function is identified while in the outer problem, a measure of fit is maximized. Several approaches have been proposed to alleviate the computational burden of this nested-loop structure, but these methods still suffer from high complexity when the state space is either discrete with large cardinality or continuous in high dimensions. Other approaches in the inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) literature emphasize policy estimation at the expense of reduced reward estimation accuracy. In this paper we propose a single-loop estimation algorithm with finite time guarantees that is equipped to deal with high-dimensional state spaces without compromising reward estimation accuracy. In the proposed algorithm, each policy improvement step is followed by a stochastic gradient step for likelihood maximization. We show that the proposed algorithm converges to a stationary solution with a finite-time guarantee. Further, if the reward is parameterized linearly, we show that the algorithm approximates the maximum likelihood estimator sublinearly. Finally, by using robotics control problems in MuJoCo and their transfer settings, we show that the proposed algorithm achieves superior performance compared with other IRL and imitation learning benchmarks.

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Siliang Zeng, Tianyi Chen, Alfredo Garcia, Mingyi Hong

Multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) has attracted much research attention recently. However, unlike its single-agent counterpart, many theoretical and algorithmic aspects of MARL have not been well-understood. In this paper, we study the emergence of coordinated behavior by autonomous agents using an actor-critic (AC) algorithm. Specifically, we propose and analyze a class of coordinated actor-critic algorithms (CAC) in which individually parametrized policies have a {\it shared} part (which is jointly optimized among all agents) and a {\it personalized} part (which is only locally optimized). Such kind of {\it partially personalized} policy allows agents to learn to coordinate by leveraging peers' past experience and adapt to individual tasks. The flexibility in our design allows the proposed MARL-CAC algorithm to be used in a {\it fully decentralized} setting, where the agents can only communicate with their neighbors, as well as a {\it federated} setting, where the agents occasionally communicate with a server while optimizing their (partially personalized) local models. Theoretically, we show that under some standard regularity assumptions, the proposed MARL-CAC algorithm requires $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-\frac{5}{2}})$ samples to achieve an $\epsilon$-stationary solution (defined as the solution whose squared norm of the gradient of the objective function is less than $\epsilon$). To the best of our knowledge, this work provides the first finite-sample guarantee for decentralized AC algorithm with partially personalized policies.

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Shixiang Chen, Alfredo Garcia, Mingyi Hong, Shahin Shahrampour

We consider a distributed non-convex optimization where a network of agents aims at minimizing a global function over the Stiefel manifold. The global function is represented as a finite sum of smooth local functions, where each local function is associated with one agent and agents communicate with each other over an undirected connected graph. The problem is non-convex as local functions are possibly non-convex (but smooth) and the Steifel manifold is a non-convex set. We present a decentralized Riemannian stochastic gradient method (DRSGD) with the convergence rate of $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{K})$ to a stationary point. To have exact convergence with constant stepsize, we also propose a decentralized Riemannian gradient tracking algorithm (DRGTA) with the convergence rate of $\mathcal{O}(1/K)$ to a stationary point. We use multi-step consensus to preserve the iteration in the local (consensus) region. DRGTA is the first decentralized algorithm with exact convergence for distributed optimization on Stiefel manifold.

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