Successor Feature Sets: Generalizing Successor Representations Across Policies


  • Kianté Brantley The University of Maryland College Park
  • Soroush Mehri Microsoft Research
  • Geoff J. Gordon Microsoft Research



Planning with Markov Models (MDPs, POMDPs), Imitation Learning & Inverse Reinforcement Learning, Reinforcement Learning


Successor-style representations have many advantages for reinforcement learning: for example, they can help an agent generalize from past experience to new goals, and they have been proposed as explanations of behavioral and neural data from human and animal learners. They also form a natural bridge between model-based and model-free RL methods: like the former they make predictions about future experiences, and like the latter they allow efficient prediction of total discounted rewards. However, successor-style representations are not optimized to generalize across policies: typically, we maintain a limited-length list of policies, and share information among them by representation learning or GPI. Successor-style representations also typically make no provision for gathering information or reasoning about latent variables. To address these limitations, we bring together ideas from predictive state representations, belief space value iteration, successor features, and convex analysis: we develop a new, general successor-style representation, together with a Bellman equation that connects multiple sources of information within this representation, including different latent states, policies, and reward functions. The new representation is highly expressive: for example, it lets us efficiently read off an optimal policy for a new reward function, or a policy that imitates a new demonstration. For this paper, we focus on exact computation of the new representation in small, known environments, since even this restricted setting offers plenty of interesting questions. Our implementation does not scale to large, unknown environments --- nor would we expect it to, since it generalizes POMDP value iteration, which is difficult to scale. However, we believe that future work will allow us to extend our ideas to approximate reasoning in large, unknown environments. We conduct experiments to explore which of the potential barriers to scaling are most pressing.




How to Cite

Brantley, K., Mehri, S., & Gordon, G. J. (2021). Successor Feature Sets: Generalizing Successor Representations Across Policies. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 35(13), 11774-11781.



AAAI Technical Track on Planning, Routing, and Scheduling