Clustering via Dirichlet Process Mixture Models for Portable Skill Discovery

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Scott Niekum, Andrew Barto


Skill discovery algorithms in reinforcement learning typically identify single states or regions in state space that correspond to task-specific subgoals. However, such methods do not directly address the question of how many distinct skills are appropriate for solving the tasks that the agent faces. This can be highly inefficient when many identified subgoals correspond to the same underlying skill, but are all used individually as skill goals. Furthermore, skills created in this manner are often only transferable to tasks that share identical state spaces, since corresponding subgoals across tasks are not merged into a single skill goal. We show that these problems can be overcome by clustering subgoal data defined in an agent-space and using the resulting clusters as templates for skill termination conditions. Clustering via a Dirichlet process mixture model is used to discover a minimal, sufficient collection of portable skills.