Google Research

Offline Reinforcement Learning with On-Policy Q-Function Regularization

European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML) (2023)


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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