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Look Beneath the Surface: Exploiting Fundamental Symmetry for Sample-Efficient Offline RL

Peng Cheng · Xianyuan Zhan · zhihao wu · Wenjia Zhang · Youfang Lin · Shou cheng Song · Han Wang · Li Jiang

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1412
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Thu 14 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


Offline reinforcement learning (RL) offers an appealing approach to real-world tasks by learning policies from pre-collected datasets without interacting with the environment. However, the performance of existing offline RL algorithms heavily depends on the scale and state-action space coverage of datasets. Real-world data collection is often expensive and uncontrollable, leading to small and narrowly covered datasets and posing significant challenges for practical deployments of offline RL. In this paper, we provide a new insight that leveraging the fundamental symmetry of system dynamics can substantially enhance offline RL performance under small datasets. Specifically, we propose a Time-reversal symmetry (T-symmetry) enforced Dynamics Model (TDM), which establishes consistency between a pair of forward and reverse latent dynamics. TDM provides both well-behaved representations for small datasets and a new reliability measure for OOD samples based on compliance with the T-symmetry. These can be readily used to construct a new offline RL algorithm (TSRL) with less conservative policy constraints and a reliable latent space data augmentation procedure. Based on extensive experiments, we find TSRL achieves great performance on small benchmark datasets with as few as 1% of the original samples, which significantly outperforms the recent offline RL algorithms in terms of data efficiency and generalizability. Code is available at:

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