What can I do here? A Theory of Affordances in Reinforcement Learning

Khimya Khetarpal, Zafarali Ahmed, Gheorghe Comanici, David Abel, Doina Precup
Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 119:5243-5253, 2020.

Abstract

Reinforcement learning algorithms usually assume that all actions are always available to an agent. However, both people and animals understand the general link between the features of their environment and the actions that are feasible. Gibson (1977) coined the term "affordances" to describe the fact that certain states enable an agent to do certain actions, in the context of embodied agents. In this paper, we develop a theory of affordances for agents who learn and plan in Markov Decision Processes. Affordances play a dual role in this case. On one hand, they allow faster planning, by reducing the number of actions available in any given situation. On the other hand, they facilitate more efficient and precise learning of transition models from data, especially when such models require function approximation. We establish these properties through theoretical results as well as illustrative examples. We also propose an approach to learn affordances and use it to estimate transition models that are simpler and generalize better.

Cite this Paper


BibTeX
@InProceedings{pmlr-v119-khetarpal20a, title = {What can I do here? {A} Theory of Affordances in Reinforcement Learning}, author = {Khetarpal, Khimya and Ahmed, Zafarali and Comanici, Gheorghe and Abel, David and Precup, Doina}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning}, pages = {5243--5253}, year = {2020}, editor = {Hal Daumé III and Aarti Singh}, volume = {119}, series = {Proceedings of Machine Learning Research}, month = {13--18 Jul}, publisher = {PMLR}, pdf = {http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/khetarpal20a/khetarpal20a.pdf}, url = { http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/khetarpal20a.html }, abstract = {Reinforcement learning algorithms usually assume that all actions are always available to an agent. However, both people and animals understand the general link between the features of their environment and the actions that are feasible. Gibson (1977) coined the term "affordances" to describe the fact that certain states enable an agent to do certain actions, in the context of embodied agents. In this paper, we develop a theory of affordances for agents who learn and plan in Markov Decision Processes. Affordances play a dual role in this case. On one hand, they allow faster planning, by reducing the number of actions available in any given situation. On the other hand, they facilitate more efficient and precise learning of transition models from data, especially when such models require function approximation. We establish these properties through theoretical results as well as illustrative examples. We also propose an approach to learn affordances and use it to estimate transition models that are simpler and generalize better.} }
Endnote
%0 Conference Paper %T What can I do here? A Theory of Affordances in Reinforcement Learning %A Khimya Khetarpal %A Zafarali Ahmed %A Gheorghe Comanici %A David Abel %A Doina Precup %B Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning %C Proceedings of Machine Learning Research %D 2020 %E Hal Daumé III %E Aarti Singh %F pmlr-v119-khetarpal20a %I PMLR %P 5243--5253 %U http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/khetarpal20a.html %V 119 %X Reinforcement learning algorithms usually assume that all actions are always available to an agent. However, both people and animals understand the general link between the features of their environment and the actions that are feasible. Gibson (1977) coined the term "affordances" to describe the fact that certain states enable an agent to do certain actions, in the context of embodied agents. In this paper, we develop a theory of affordances for agents who learn and plan in Markov Decision Processes. Affordances play a dual role in this case. On one hand, they allow faster planning, by reducing the number of actions available in any given situation. On the other hand, they facilitate more efficient and precise learning of transition models from data, especially when such models require function approximation. We establish these properties through theoretical results as well as illustrative examples. We also propose an approach to learn affordances and use it to estimate transition models that are simpler and generalize better.
APA
Khetarpal, K., Ahmed, Z., Comanici, G., Abel, D. & Precup, D.. (2020). What can I do here? A Theory of Affordances in Reinforcement Learning. Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Machine Learning, in Proceedings of Machine Learning Research 119:5243-5253 Available from http://proceedings.mlr.press/v119/khetarpal20a.html .

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