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# Learning to Reach, Swim, Walk and Fly in One Trial: Data-Driven Control with Scarce Data and Side Information

*Proceedings of The 4th Annual Learning for Dynamics and Control Conference*, PMLR 168:453-466, 2022.

#### Abstract

We develop a learning-based control algorithm for unknown dynamical systems under very severe data limitations. Specifically, the algorithm has access to streaming and noisy data only from a single and ongoing trial. It accomplishes such performance by effectively leveraging various forms of side information on the dynamics to reduce the sample complexity. Such side information typically comes from elementary laws of physics and qualitative properties of the system. More precisely, the algorithm approximately solves an optimal control problem encoding the system’s desired behavior. To this end, it constructs and iteratively refines a data-driven differential inclusion that contains the unknown vector field of the dynamics. The differential inclusion, used in an interval Taylor-based method, enables to over-approximate the set of states the system may reach. Theoretically, we establish a bound on the suboptimality of the approximate solution with respect to the optimal control with known dynamics. We show that the longer the trial or the more side information is available, the tighter the bound. Empirically, experiments in a high-fidelity F-16 aircraft simulator and MuJoCo’s environments illustrate that, despite the scarcity of data, the algorithm can provide performance comparable to reinforcement learning algorithms trained over millions of environment interactions. Besides, we show that the algorithm outperforms existing techniques combining system identification and model predictive control.