Pre-training with Synthetic Data Helps Offline Reinforcement Learning

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 05 Mar 2024ICLR 2024 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
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Keywords: Deep Reinforcement Learning, Offline Reinforcement Learning, Pretraining
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TL;DR: We show pre-training with synthetic Markov Chain and MDP data can significantly improve offline DRL performance.
Abstract: Recently, it has been shown that for offline deep reinforcement learning (DRL), pre-training Decision Transformer with a large language corpus can improve downstream performance (Reid et al., 2022). A natural question to ask is whether this performance gain can only be achieved with language pre-training, or can be achieved with simpler pre-training schemes which do not involve language. In this paper, we first show that language is not essential for improved performance, and indeed pre-training with synthetic IID data for a small number of updates can match the performance gains from pre-training with a large language corpus; moreover, pre-training with data generated by a one-step Markov chain can further improve the performance. Inspired by these experimental results, we then consider pre-training Conservative Q-Learning (CQL), a popular offline DRL algorithm, which is Q-learning-based and typically employs a Multi-Layer Perceptron (MLP) backbone. Surprisingly, pre-training with simple synthetic data for a small number of updates can also improve CQL, providing consistent performance improvement on D4RL Gym locomotion datasets. The results of this paper not only illustrate the importance of pre-training for offline DRL but also show that the pre-training data can be synthetic and generated with remarkably simple mechanisms.
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Primary Area: reinforcement learning
Submission Number: 1152