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Deterministic and Discriminative Imitation (D2−Imitation): Revisiting Adversarial Imitation for Sample Efficiency

Mingfei Sun‚ Sam Devlin‚ Katja Hofmann and Shimon Whiteson


Sample efficiency is crucial for imitation learning methods to be applicable in real-world applications. Many studies improve sample efficiency by extending adversarial imitation to be off-policy regardless of the fact that these off-policy extensions could either change the original objective or involve complicated optimization. We revisit the foundation of adversarial imitation and propose an off-policy sample efficient approach that requires no adversarial training or min-max optimization. Our formulation capitalizes on two key insights: (1) the similarity between the Bellman equation and the stationary state-action distribution equation allows us to derive a novel temporal difference (TD) learning approach; and (2) the use of a deterministic policy simplifies the TD learning. Combined, these insights yield a practical algorithm, Deterministic and Discriminative Imitation (D2-Imitation), which operates by first partitioning samples into two replay buffers and then learning a deterministic policy via off-policy reinforcement learning. Our empirical results show that D2-Imitation is effective in achieving good sample efficiency, outperforming several off-policy extension approaches of adversarial imitation on many control tasks.

Book Title
AAAI 2022: Proceedings of the Thirty−Sixth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence