Enabling Environment Design via Active Indirect Elicitation

Haoqi Zhang, David C. Parkes

Many situations arise in which an interested party wishes to affect the decisions of an agent; e.g., a teacher that seeks to promote particular study habits, a Web 2.0 site that seeks to encourage users to contribute content, or an online retailer that seeks to encourage consumers to write reviews. In the problem of environment design, one assumes an interested party who is able to alter limited aspects of the environment for the purpose of promoting desirable behaviors. A critical aspect of environment design is understanding preferences, but by assumption direct queries are unavailable. We work in the inverse reinforcement learning framework, adopting here the idea of active indirect preference elicitation to learn the reward function of the agent by observing behavior in response to incentives. We show that the process is convergent and obtain desirable bounds on the number of elicitation rounds. We briefly discuss generalizations of the elicitation method to other forms of environment design, e.g., modifying the state space, transition model, and available actions.

Subjects: 12.1 Reinforcement Learning; 9.3 Mathematical Foundations

Submitted: May 5, 2008

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