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Dynamic Causal Discovery in Imitation Learning

Imitation learning, which learns agent policy by mimicking expert demonstration, has shown promising results in many applications such as medical treatment regimes and self-driving vehicles. However, it remains a difficult task to interpret control policies learned by the agent. Difficulties mainly come from two aspects: 1) agents in imitation learning are usually implemented as deep neural networks, which are black-box models and lack interpretability; 2) the latent causal mechanism behind agents’ decisions may vary along the trajectory, rather than staying static throughout time steps. To increase transparency and offer better interpretability of the neural agent, we propose to expose its captured knowledge in the form of a directed acyclic causal graph, with nodes being action and state variables and edges denoting the causal relations behind predictions. Furthermore, we design this causal discovery process to be state-dependent, enabling it to model the dynamics in latent causal graphs. Concretely, we conduct causal discovery from the perspective of Granger causality and propose a self-explainable imitation learning framework, CAIL. The proposed framework is composed of three parts: a dynamic causal discovery module, a causality encoding module, and a prediction module, and is trained in an end-to-end manner. After the model is learned, we can obtain causal relations among states and action variables behind its decisions, exposing policies learned by it. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed CAIL in learning the dynamic causal graphs for understanding the decision-making of imitation learning meanwhilemaintaining high prediction accuracy.