Active Task-Inference-Guided Deep Inverse Reinforcement Learning

Farzan Memarian, Zhe Xu, Bo Wu, Min Wen, Ufuk Topcu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

16 Scopus citations


We consider the problem of reward learning for temporally extended tasks. For reward learning, inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) is a widely used paradigm. Given a Markov decision process (MDP) and a set of demonstrations for a task, IRL learns a reward function that assigns a real-valued reward to each state of the MDP. However, for temporally extended tasks, the underlying reward function may not be expressible as a function of individual states of the MDP. Instead, the history of visited states may need to be considered to determine the reward at the current state. To address this issue, we propose an iterative algorithm to learn a reward function for temporally extended tasks. At each iteration, the algorithm alternates between two modules, a task inference module that infers the underlying task structure and a reward learning module that uses the inferred task structure to learn a reward function. The task inference module produces a series of queries, where each query is a sequence of subgoals. The demonstrator provides a binary response to each query by attempting to execute it in the environment and observing the environment's feedback. After the queries are answered, the task inference module returns an automaton encoding its current hypothesis of the task structure. The reward learning module augments the state space of the MDP with the states of the automaton. The module then proceeds to learn a reward function over the augmented state space using a novel deep maximum entropy IRL algorithm. This iterative process continues until it learns a reward function with satisfactory performance. The experiments show that the proposed algorithm significantly outperforms several IRL baselines on temporally extended tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2020 59th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2020
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781728174471
StatePublished - Dec 14 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event59th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2020 - Virtual, Jeju Island, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Dec 14 2020Dec 18 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control
ISSN (Print)0743-1546
ISSN (Electronic)2576-2370


Conference59th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2020
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
CityVirtual, Jeju Island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Control and Optimization


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