Potential-Based Reward Shaping for Intrinsic Motivation (Student Abstract)


  • Grant C. Forbes North Carolina State University
  • David L. Roberts North Carolina State University




Reinforcement Learning, Game Playing, Markov Decision Processes, Machine Learning


Recently there has been a proliferation of intrinsic motivation (IM) reward shaping methods to learn in complex and sparse-reward environments. These methods can often inadvertently change the set of optimal policies in an environment, leading to suboptimal behavior. Previous work on mitigating the risks of reward shaping, particularly through potential-based reward shaping (PBRS), has not been applicable to many IM methods, as they are often complex, trainable functions themselves, and therefore dependent on a wider set of variables than the traditional reward functions that PBRS was developed for. We present an extension to PBRS that we show preserves the set of optimal policies under a more general set of functions than has been previously demonstrated. We also present Potential-Based Intrinsic Motivation (PBIM), a method for converting IM rewards into a potential-based form that are useable without altering the set of optimal policies. Testing in the MiniGrid DoorKey environment, we demonstrate that PBIM successfully prevents the agent from converging to a suboptimal policy and can speed up training.



How to Cite

Forbes, G. C., & Roberts, D. L. (2024). Potential-Based Reward Shaping for Intrinsic Motivation (Student Abstract). Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 38(21), 23488-23489. https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v38i21.30441