Goal-Based Imitation as Probabilistic Inference over Graphical Models

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 18 (NIPS 2005)

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Deepak Verma, Rajesh PN Rao


Humans are extremely adept at learning new skills by imitating the actions of others. A progression of imitative abilities has been observed in children, ranging from imitation of simple body movements to goalbased imitation based on inferring intent. In this paper, we show that the problem of goal-based imitation can be formulated as one of inferring goals and selecting actions using a learned probabilistic graphical model of the environment. We first describe algorithms for planning actions to achieve a goal state using probabilistic inference. We then describe how planning can be used to bootstrap the learning of goal-dependent policies by utilizing feedback from the environment. The resulting graphical model is then shown to be powerful enough to allow goal-based imitation. Using a simple maze navigation task, we illustrate how an agent can infer the goals of an observed teacher and imitate the teacher even when the goals are uncertain and the demonstration is incomplete.