Selective Sampling and Imitation Learning via Online Regression

Ayush Sekhari · Karthik Sridharan · Wen Sun · Runzhe Wu

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1704
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Tue 12 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


We consider the problem of Imitation Learning (IL) by actively querying noisy expert for feedback. While imitation learning has been empirically successful, much of prior work assumes access to noiseless expert feedback which is not practical in many applications. In fact, when one only has access to noisy expert feedback, algorithms that rely on purely offline data (non-interactive IL) can be shown to need a prohibitively large number of samples to be successful. In contrast, in this work, we provide an interactive algorithm for IL that uses selective sampling to actively query the noisy expert for feedback. Our contributions are twofold: First, we provide a new selective sampling algorithm that works with general function classes and multiple actions, and obtains the best-known bounds for the regret and the number of queries. Next, we extend this analysis to the problem of IL with noisy expert feedback and provide a new IL algorithm that makes limited queries. Our algorithm for selective sampling leverages function approximation, and relies on an online regression oracle w.r.t.~the given model class to predict actions, and to decide whether to query the expert for its label. On the theoretical side, the regret bound of our algorithm is upper bounded by the regret of the online regression oracle, while the query complexity additionally depends on the eluder dimension of the model class. We complement this with a lower bound that demonstrates that our results are tight. We extend our selective sampling algorithm for IL with general function approximation and provide bounds on both the regret and the number of queries made to the noisy expert. A key novelty here is that our regret and query complexity bounds only depend on the number of times the optimal policy (and not the noisy expert, or the learner) go to states that have a small margin.

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