Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


Teachable Reinforcement Learning via Advice Distillation

Olivia Watkins · Abhishek Gupta · Trevor Darrell · Pieter Abbeel · Jacob Andreas

Keywords: [ Active Learning ] [ Reinforcement Learning and Planning ]


Training automated agents to complete complex tasks in interactive environments is challenging: reinforcement learning requires careful hand-engineering of reward functions, imitation learning requires specialized infrastructure and access to a human expert, and learning from intermediate forms of supervision (like binary preferences) is time-consuming and extracts little information from each human intervention. Can we overcome these challenges by building agents that learn from rich, interactive feedback instead? We propose a new supervision paradigm for interactive learning based on "teachable" decision-making systems that learn from structured advice provided by an external teacher. We begin by formalizing a class of human-in-the-loop decision making problems in which multiple forms of teacher-provided advice are available to a learner. We then describe a simple learning algorithm for these problems that first learns to interpret advice, then learns from advice to complete tasks even in the absence of human supervision. In puzzle-solving, navigation, and locomotion domains, we show that agents that learn from advice can acquire new skills with significantly less human supervision than standard reinforcement learning algorithms and often less than imitation learning.

Chat is not available.