Map Induction: Compositional spatial submap learning for efficient exploration in novel environments
Sugandha Sharma · Aidan Curtis · Marta Kryven · Joshua B Tenenbaum · Ila Fiete
Humans are expert explorers and foragers. Understanding the computational cognitive mechanisms that support this capability can advance the study of the human mind and enable more efficient exploration algorithms. We hypothesize that humans explore new environments by inferring the structure of unobserved spaces through re-use of spatial information collected from previously explored spaces. Taking inspiration from the neuroscience of repeating map fragments and ideas about program induction, we present a novel ``Map Induction'' framework, which involves the generation of novel map proposals for unseen environments based on compositions of already-seen spaces in a Hierarchical Bayesian framework. The model thus explicitly reasons about unseen spaces through a distribution of strong spatial priors. We introduce a new behavioral Map Induction Task (MIT) that involves foraging for rewards to compare human performance with state-of-the-art existing models and Map Induction. We show that Map Induction better predicts human behavior than the non-inductive baselines. We also show that Map Induction, when used to augment state-of-the-art approximate planning algorithms, improves their performance.