Layne T. Watson


It has been well demonstrated that inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) is an effective technique for teaching machines to perform tasks at human skill levels given human demonstrations (i.e., human to machine apprenticeship learning). This paper seeks to show that a similar application can be demonstrated with human learners. That is, given demonstrations from human experts inverse reinforcement learning techniques can be used to teach other humans to perform at higher skill levels (i.e., human to human apprenticeship learning). To show this two experiments were conducted using a simple, real-time web game where players were asked to touch targets in order to earn as many points as possible. For the experiment player performance was defined as the number of targets a player touched, irrespective of the points that a player actually earned. This allowed for in-game points to be modified and the effect of these alterations on performance measured. At no time were participants told the true performance metric. To determine the point modifications IRL was applied on demonstrations of human experts playing the game. The results of the experiment show with significance that performance improved over the control for select treatment groups. Finally, in addition to the experiment, we also detail the algorithmic challenges we faced when conducting the experiment and the techniques we used to overcome them.


Layne T. Watson

Publication Details

Date of publication:
June 14, 2021
Cornell University
Publication note:

Mark A. Rucker, Layne T. Watson, Laura E. Barnes, Matthew S. Gerber: Human Apprenticeship Learning via Kernel-based Inverse Reinforcement Learning. CoRR abs/2002.10904 (2020)