Socio-Emotional IMRL

Socio-Emotional Reward Design for Intrinsically-Motivated Reinforcement Learning Agents – C# code

Source repository: https://github.com/pedrodbs/SocioEmotionalIMRL

This repository contains the code used to produce the results in my PhD thesis. The code implements the intrinsically-motivated reinforcement learning (IRML) framework, an extension to RL where an agent is rewarded for behaviors other than those strictly related to the task being accomplished, e.g., by exploring or playing with elements of its environment.

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Intrinsically-Motivated Reinforcement Learning

My Ph.D thesis focused in developing flexible and robust mechanisms for autonomous agents by using the computational framework of reinforcement learning (RL). Within the field of machine learning, RL is the discipline concerned with providing mechanisms that allow an agent to accomplish a task through trial-and-error interactions with a dynamic and sometimes uncertain and unreliable environment. Furthermore, agents usually suffer from perceptual, motor and adaptive limitations, i.e., they often do not have access to “all” the information required to make the best decisions and normally do not know the environment’s dynamics or the exact consequences of their actions. As a consequence, standard RL techniques present several design challenges, especially when dealing with complex problems often involving a great amount of fine-tuning and user expert knowledge.

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Associative Learning in Factored MDPs

Associative learning is a paradigm from behaviorism that posits that learning occurs whenever a change in behavior is observed. Classical conditioning is one of the best-known associative learning paradigms and is one of the most basic survival tools found in nature by allowing organisms to expand the range of contexts where some of their already-known behaviors can be applied. By associating co-occurring stimuli from the environment, the organism can activate innate phylogenetic responses (e.g., fight or flight responses) to new and previously unknown situations.

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Learning and Emotions

A great portion of my Ph.D thesis was dedicated to incorporating ideas from the emotional processing mechanisms in humans and other animals into the framework of intrinsically-motivated reinforcement learning (IMRL). Emotions are one of the most basic behavioral phenomena observed in nature, yet they have often been considered as detrimental to rational and sound decision-making. However, as research in psychology, biology, neuroscience and other areas has shown, emotions are a beneficial adaptive mechanism for problem solving, enhancing perception, memory, attention and other cognitive skills.

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