skip to main content


Title: Supporting End Users in Defining Reinforcement-Learning Problems for Human-Robot Interactions (Extended Abstract)
Reinforcement learning (RL) can help agents learn complex tasks that would be hard to specify using standard imperative programming. However, end users may have trouble personalizing their technology using RL due to a lack of technical expertise. Prior work has explored means of supporting end users after a problem for the RL agent to solve has been defined. Little work, however, has explored how to support end users when defining this problem. We propose a tool to provide structured support for end users defining problems for RL agents. Through this tool, users can (i) directly and indirectly specify the problem as a Markov decision process (MDP); (ii) receive automatic suggestions on possible MDP changes that would enhance training time and accuracy; and (iii) revise the MDP after training the agent to solve it. We believe this work will help reduce barriers to using RL and contribute to the existing literature on designing human-in-the-loop systems.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1837120
NSF-PAR ID:
10387468
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The 5th Multidisciplinary Conference on Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making (RLDM)
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    In this paper we explore what role humans might play in designing tools for reinforcement learning (RL) agents to interact with the world. Recent work has explored RL methods that optimize a robot’s morphology while learning to control it, effectively dividing an RL agent’s environment into the external world and the agent’s interface with the world. Taking a user-centered design (UCD) approach, we explore the potential of a human, instead of an algorithm, redesigning the agent’s tool. Using UCD to design for a machine learning agent brings up several research questions, including what it means to understand an RL agent’s experience, beliefs, tendencies, and goals. After discussing these questions, we then present a system we developed to study humans designing a 2D racecar for an RL autonomous driver. We conclude with findings and insights from exploratory pilots with twelve users using this system. 
    more » « less
  2. Mitrovic, A. ; & Bosch, N. (Ed.)
    Working collaboratively in groups can positively impact performance and student engagement. Intelligent social agents can provide a source of personalized support for students, and their benefits likely extend to collaborative settings, but it is difficult to determine how these agents should interact with students. Reinforcement learning (RL) offers an opportunity for adapting the interactions between the social agent and the students to better support collaboration and learning. However, using RL in education with social agents typically involves training using real students. In this work, we train an RL agent in a high-quality simulated environment to learn how to improve students’ collaboration. Data was collected during a pilot study with dyads of students who worked together to tutor an intelligent teachable robot. We explore the process of building an environment from the data, training a policy, and the impact of the policy on different students, compared to various baselines. 
    more » « less
  3. Pedagogical planners can provide adaptive support to students in narrative-centered learning environments by dynamically scaffolding student learning and tailoring problem scenarios. Reinforcement learning (RL) is frequently used for pedagogical planning in narrative-centered learning environments. However, RL-based pedagogical planning raises significant challenges due to the scarcity of data for training RL policies. Most prior work has relied on limited-size datasets and offline RL techniques for policy learning. Unfortunately, offline RL techniques do not support on-demand exploration and evaluation, which can adversely impact the quality of induced policies. To address the limitation of data scarcity and offline RL, we propose INSIGHT, an online RL framework for training data-driven pedagogical policies that optimize student learning in narrative-centered learning environments. The INSIGHT framework consists of three components: a narrative-centered learning environment simulator, a simulated student agent, and an RL-based pedagogical planner agent, which uses a reward metric that is associated with effective student learning processes. The framework enables the generation of synthetic data for on-demand exploration and evaluation of RL-based pedagogical planning. We have implemented INSIGHT with OpenAI Gym for a narrative-centered learning environment testbed with rule-based simulated student agents and a deep Q-learning-based pedagogical planner. Our results show that online deep RL algorithms can induce near-optimal pedagogical policies in the INSIGHT framework, while offline deep RL algorithms only find suboptimal policies even with large amounts of data.

     
    more » « less
  4. Natural language programming is a promising approach to enable end users to instruct new tasks for intelligent agents. However, our formative study found that end users would often use unclear, ambiguous or vague concepts when naturally instructing tasks in natural language, especially when specifying conditionals. Existing systems have limited support for letting the user teach agents new concepts or explaining unclear concepts. In this paper, we describe a new multi-modal domain-independent approach that combines natural language programming and programming-by-demonstration to allow users to first naturally describe tasks and associated conditions at a high level, and then collaborate with the agent to recursively resolve any ambiguities or vagueness through conversations and demonstrations. Users can also define new procedures and concepts by demonstrating and referring to contents within GUIs of existing mobile apps. We demonstrate this approach in PUMICE, an end-user programmable agent that implements this approach. A lab study with 10 users showed its usability. 
    more » « less
  5. Natural language programming is a promising approach to enable end users to instruct new tasks for intelligent agents. However, our formative study found that end users would often use unclear, ambiguous or vague concepts when naturally instructing tasks in natural language, especially when specifying conditionals. Existing systems have limited support for letting the user teach agents new concepts or explaining unclear concepts. In this paper, we describe a new multimodal domain-independent approach that combines natural language programming and programming-by-demonstration to allow users to first naturally describe tasks and associated conditions at a high level, and then collaborate with the agent to recursively resolve any ambiguities or vagueness through conversations and demonstrations. Users can also define new procedures and concepts by demonstrating and referring to contents within GUIs of existing mobile apps. We demonstrate this approach in PUMICE, an end-user programmable agent that implements this approach. A lab study with 10 users showed its usability. 
    more » « less