Imitation Learning in Robots

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Synonyms

Learning/programming from/by demonstration; Through apprenticeship

Definition

Imitation is the ability to recognize and reproduce others’ actions – By extension, imitation learning is a means of learning and developing new skills from observing these skills performed by another agent. Imitation learning (IL) as applied to robots is a technique to reduce the complexity of search spaces for learning. When observing either good or bad examples, one can reduce the search for a possible solution, by either starting the search from the observed good solution (local optima), or conversely, by eliminating from the search space what is known as a bad solution. Imitation learning offers an implicit means of training a machine, such that explicit and tedious programming of a task by a human user can be minimized or eliminated. Imitation learning is thus a “natural” means of training a machine, meant to be accessible to lay people.

Theoretical Background