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Offline Reinforcement Learning with On-Policy Q-Function Regularization

Laixi Shi
Yuejie Chi
Matthieu Geist
European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML) (2023)
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The core challenge of offline reinforcement learning (RL) is dealing with the (potentially catastrophic) extrapolation error induced by the distribution shift between the history dataset and the desired policy. A large portion of prior work tackles this challenge by implicitly/explicitly regularizing the learning policy towards the behavior policy, which is hard to estimate reliably in practice. In this work, we propose to regularize towards the Q-function of the behavior policy instead of the behavior policy itself, under the premise that the Q-function can be estimated more reliably and easily by a SARSA-style estimate and handles the extrapolation error more straightforwardly. We propose two algorithms taking advantage of the estimated Q-function through regularizations, and demonstrate they exhibit strong performance on the D4RL benchmarks.

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