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Information-Theoretic Safe Exploration with Gaussian Processes
Alessandro Bottero · Carlos Luis · Julia Vinogradska · Felix Berkenkamp · Jan Peters

Tue Nov 29 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Hall J #714

We consider a sequential decision making task where we are not allowed to evaluate parameters that violate an a priori unknown (safety) constraint. A common approach is to place a Gaussian process prior on the unknown constraint and allow evaluations only in regions that are safe with high probability. Most current methods rely on a discretization of the domain and cannot be directly extended to the continuous case. Moreover, the way in which they exploit regularity assumptions about the constraint introduces an additional critical hyperparameter. In this paper, we propose an information-theoretic safe exploration criterion that directly exploits the GP posterior to identify the most informative safe parameters to evaluate. Our approach is naturally applicable to continuous domains and does not require additional hyperparameters. We theoretically analyze the method and show that we do not violate the safety constraint with high probability and that we explore by learning about the constraint up to arbitrary precision. Empirical evaluations demonstrate improved data-efficiency and scalability.

Author Information

Alessandro Bottero (Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence)
Carlos Luis (Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence)
Julia Vinogradska (Robert Bosch GmbH)
Felix Berkenkamp (Bosch Center for AI)
Jan Peters (TU Darmstadt & MPI Intelligent Systems)

Jan Peters is a full professor (W3) for Intelligent Autonomous Systems at the Computer Science Department of the Technische Universitaet Darmstadt and at the same time a senior research scientist and group leader at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, where he heads the interdepartmental Robot Learning Group. Jan Peters has received the Dick Volz Best 2007 US PhD Thesis Runner-Up Award, the Robotics: Science & Systems - Early Career Spotlight, the INNS Young Investigator Award, and the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society‘s Early Career Award as well as numerous best paper awards. In 2015, he was awarded an ERC Starting Grant. Jan Peters has studied Computer Science, Electrical, Mechanical and Control Engineering at TU Munich and FernUni Hagen in Germany, at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Southern California (USC). He has received four Master‘s degrees in these disciplines as well as a Computer Science PhD from USC.

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