Explanation-Based Neural Network Learning for Robot Control

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 5 (NIPS 1992)

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Tom M. Mitchell, Sebastian B. Thrun


How can artificial neural nets generalize better from fewer examples? In order to generalize successfully, neural network learning methods typically require large training data sets. We introduce a neural network learning method that generalizes rationally from many fewer data points, relying instead on prior knowledge encoded in previously learned neural networks. For example, in robot control learning tasks reported here, previously learned networks that model the effects of robot actions are used to guide subsequent learning of robot control functions. For each observed training example of the target function (e.g. the robot control policy), the learner explains the observed example in terms of its prior knowledge, then analyzes this explanation to infer additional information about the shape, or slope, of the target function. This shape knowledge is used to bias generalization when learning the target function. Results are presented applying this approach to a simulated robot task based on reinforcement learning.