EDGE: Explaining Deep Reinforcement Learning Policies

Wenbo Guo, Xian Wu, Usmann Khan, Xinyu Xing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

18 Scopus citations


With the rapid development of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) techniques, there is an increasing need to understand and interpret DRL policies. While recent research has developed explanation methods to interpret how an agent determines its moves, they cannot capture the importance of actions/states to a game's final result. In this work, we propose a novel self-explainable model that augments a Gaussian process with a customized kernel function and an interpretable predictor. Together with the proposed model, we also develop a parameter learning procedure that leverages inducing points and variational inference to improve learning efficiency. Using our proposed model, we can predict an agent's final rewards from its game episodes and extract time step importance within episodes as strategy-level explanations for that agent. Through experiments on Atari and MuJoCo games, we verify the explanation fidelity of our method and demonstrate how to employ interpretation to understand agent behavior, discover policy vulnerabilities, remediate policy errors, and even defend against adversarial attacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 - 35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
EditorsMarc'Aurelio Ranzato, Alina Beygelzimer, Yann Dauphin, Percy S. Liang, Jenn Wortman Vaughan
PublisherNeural information processing systems foundation
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781713845393
StatePublished - 2021
Event35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Dec 6 2021Dec 14 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
ISSN (Print)1049-5258


Conference35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing


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