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Poster
Bridging Offline Reinforcement Learning and Imitation Learning: A Tale of Pessimism
Paria Rashidinejad · Banghua Zhu · Cong Ma · Jiantao Jiao · Stuart Russell

Wed Dec 08 04:30 PM -- 06:00 PM (PST) @ Virtual #None
Offline (or batch) reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms seek to learn an optimal policy from a fixed dataset without active data collection. Based on the composition of the offline dataset, two main methods are used: imitation learning which is suitable for expert datasets, and vanilla offline RL which often requires uniform coverage datasets. From a practical standpoint, datasets often deviate from these two extremes and the exact data composition is usually unknown. To bridge this gap, we present a new offline RL framework that smoothly interpolates between the two extremes of data composition, hence unifying imitation learning and vanilla offline RL. The new framework is centered around a weak version of the concentrability coefficient that measures the deviation of the behavior policy from the expert policy alone. Under this new framework, we ask: can one develop an algorithm that achieves a minimax optimal rate adaptive to unknown data composition? To address this question, we consider a lower confidence bound (LCB) algorithm developed based on pessimism in the face of uncertainty in offline RL. We study finite-sample properties of LCB as well as information-theoretic limits in multi-armed bandits, contextual bandits, and Markov decision processes (MDPs). Our analysis reveals surprising facts about optimality rates. In particular, in both contextual bandits and RL, LCB achieves a faster rate of $1/N$ for nearly-expert datasets compared to the usual rate of $1/\sqrt{N}$ in offline RL, where $N$ is the batch dataset sample size. In contextual bandits with at least two contexts, we prove that LCB is adaptively optimal for the entire data composition range, achieving a smooth transition from imitation learning to offline RL. We further show that LCB is almost adaptively optimal in MDPs.

Author Information

Paria Rashidinejad (University of California, Berkeley)
Banghua Zhu (University of California Berkeley)
Cong Ma (University of California Berkeley)
Jiantao Jiao (University of California, Berkeley)
Stuart Russell (UC Berkeley)

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