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On Sample-Efficient Offline Reinforcement Learning: Data Diversity, Posterior Sampling and Beyond

Thanh Nguyen-Tang · Raman Arora

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1824
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Thu 14 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


We seek to understand what facilitates sample-efficient learning from historical datasets for sequential decision-making, a problem that is popularly known as offline reinforcement learning (RL). Further, we are interested in algorithms that enjoy sample efficiency while leveraging (value) function approximation. In this paper, we address these fundamental questions by (i) proposing a notion of data diversity that subsumes the previous notions of coverage measures in offline RL and (ii) using this notion to \emph{unify} three distinct classes of offline RL algorithms based on version spaces (VS), regularized optimization (RO), and posterior sampling (PS). We establish that VS-based, RO-based, and PS-based algorithms, under standard assumptions, achieve \emph{comparable} sample efficiency, which recovers the state-of-the-art sub-optimality bounds for finite and linear model classes with the standard assumptions. This result is surprising, given that the prior work suggested an unfavorable sample complexity of the RO-based algorithm compared to the VS-based algorithm, whereas posterior sampling is rarely considered in offline RL due to its explorative nature. Notably, our proposed model-free PS-based algorithm for offline RL is \emph{novel}, with sub-optimality bounds that are \emph{frequentist} (i.e., worst-case) in nature.

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