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Hyunin Lee, Yuhao Ding, Jongmin Lee, Ming Jin, Javad Lavaei, Somayeh Sojoudi

We first raise and tackle ``time synchronization'' issue between the agent and the environment in non-stationary reinforcement learning (RL), a crucial factor hindering its real-world applications. In reality, environmental changes occur over wall-clock time ($\mathfrak{t}$) rather than episode progress ($k$), where wall-clock time signifies the actual elapsed time within the fixed duration $\mathfrak{t} \in [0, T]$. In existing works, at episode $k$, the agent rollouts a trajectory and trains a policy before transitioning to episode $k+1$. In the context of the time-desynchronized environment, however, the agent at time $\mathfrak{t}_k$ allocates $\Delta \mathfrak{t}$ for trajectory generation and training, subsequently moves to the next episode at $\mathfrak{t}_{k+1}=\mathfrak{t}_{k}+\Delta \mathfrak{t}$. Despite a fixed total episode ($K$), the agent accumulates different trajectories influenced by the choice of \textit{interaction times} ($\mathfrak{t}_1,\mathfrak{t}_2,...,\mathfrak{t}_K$), significantly impacting the sub-optimality gap of policy. We propose a Proactively Synchronizing Tempo (ProST) framework that computes optimal $\{ \mathfrak{t}_1,\mathfrak{t}_2,...,\mathfrak{t}_K \} (= \{ \mathfrak{t} \}_{1:K})$. Our main contribution is that we show optimal $\{ \mathfrak{t} \}_{1:K}$ trades-off between the policy training time (agent tempo) and how fast the environment changes (environment tempo). Theoretically, this work establishes an optimal $\{ \mathfrak{t} \}_{1:K}$ as a function of the degree of the environment's non-stationarity while also achieving a sublinear dynamic regret. Our experimental evaluation on various high dimensional non-stationary environments shows that the ProST framework achieves a higher online return at optimal $\{ \mathfrak{t} \}_{1:K}$ than the existing methods.

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Samuel Pfrommer, Yatong Bai, Hyunin Lee, Somayeh Sojoudi

Imitation learning suffers from causal confusion. This phenomenon occurs when learned policies attend to features that do not causally influence the expert actions but are instead spuriously correlated. Causally confused agents produce low open-loop supervised loss but poor closed-loop performance upon deployment. We consider the problem of masking observed confounders in a disentangled representation of the observation space. Our novel masking algorithm leverages the usual ability to intervene in the initial system state, avoiding any requirement involving expert querying, expert reward functions, or causal graph specification. Under certain assumptions, we theoretically prove that this algorithm is conservative in the sense that it does not incorrectly mask observations that causally influence the expert; furthermore, intervening on the initial state serves to strictly reduce excess conservatism. The masking algorithm is applied to behavior cloning for two illustrative control systems: CartPole and Reacher.

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